United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
RONALD A. GUZMÁN United States District Judge
Court grants Defendant's motion to dismiss , and this
case is dismissed as nonjusticiable.
case concerns the constitutionality of Illinois' Youth
Mental Health Protection Act (“YMHPA” or
“the Act”), which generally prohibits mental
health providers who practice in “trade or
commerce” from engaging in sexual orientation change
efforts (i.e., conversion therapy) with minors. 405 Ill.
Comp. Stat. § 48/20. Plaintiffs are a group of five
Illinois pastors and two unincorporated associations of
pastors/churches who believe the YMHPA violates their First
Amendment rights. Particularly, they claim the law has
chilled their ability to provide “pastoral counseling,
” such as counseling about sexual identity and
homosexuality. Accordingly, Plaintiffs filed the instant case
against defendant Lisa Madigan in her official capacity as
Illinois Attorney General, seeking a declaratory judgment
that pastors (including those who are compensated for their
pastoral work) fall outside the YMHPA's definition of
“trade or commerce” and therefore cannot be held
liable under the Act. Defendant now moves to dismiss pursuant to
Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). For the following reasons, the
Court grants Defendant's motion.
purposes of a motion to dismiss under either Rule 12(b)(1) or
Rule 12(b)(6), the court accepts all well-pleaded factual
allegations as true and construes all reasonable inferences
in the plaintiff's favor. Scanlan v. Eisenberg,
669 F.3d 838, 841 (7th Cir. 2012). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion, the complaint must set forth a “‘short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.'” Tamayo v.
Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008)
(citations omitted). A Rule 12(b)(1) motion, in contrast,
challenges federal jurisdiction, and the plaintiff bears the
burden of establishing the elements necessary for
jurisdiction, including standing, have been met.
Scanlan, 669 F.3d at 841-42.
moves to dismiss on several justiciability grounds, but for
the sake of analytical clarity the Court will frame its
discussion in terms of standing.
III Section 2 of the Constitution “limits the
‘judicial power' to the resolution of
‘cases' and ‘controversies.'”
Ind. Right to Life, Inc. v. Shepard, 507 F.3d 545,
549 (7th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted). A case or controversy
requires a claim that is ripe and a plaintiff who has
standing. Id. Whereas ripeness is concerned with
when an action may be brought, standing focuses on
who may bring a ripe action. Id. In
pre-enforcement challenges such as this case, however, the
two concepts tend to merge, and the central question is
whether the plaintiff can demonstrate a credible threat of
enforcement (or reasonable likelihood of future harm) from
the challenged law. See Wis. Right to Life, Inc. v.
Schober, 366 F.3d 485, 489 (7th Cir. 2004). Put
differently, persons who have only speculative fears that a
statute will be applied against them are not appropriate
plaintiffs. See Babbitt v. United Farm Workers Nat.
Union, 442 U.S. 289, 298 (1979); Younger v.
Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 42 (1971).
the crux of Plaintiffs' claim is their belief that the
pastoral services they offer are within the meaning of
“trade or commerce” in the YMHPA. Put best by
Section 25 of the Act applies to anyone who, in “trade
or commerce” offers conversion therapy services.
Because the government has traditionally taken an expansive
view of “commerce, ” it is unclear to Plaintiffs
whether their counseling services, which they are compensated
for as ministers and which are an alternative to professional
counseling, are “in trade or commerce.”
Br. [Dkt. # 27] at 2.) The YMHPA does not define “trade
or commerce, ” however, which means this case is
essentially one of statutory interpretation. To that end,
Plaintiffs rely upon (1) the language of the YMHPA, (2) the
United States Supreme Court's commerce clause
jurisprudence, and (3) other Illinois statutes that define
“trade or commerce” to include
“services” and acts performed within one's
“vocation or occupation” - all of which, on
Plaintiffs' account, plausibly suggest that religious
counseling is “commerce.” The Court finds
YMHPA's Text and Legislative History
federal court interpreting Illinois law, the Court defers to
Illinois' rules of statutory interpretation. United
States v. Woodland, 607 F.Supp.2d 904, 911 (C.D. Ill.
2009). In that respect, where a statute has not been
judicially interpreted, as is the case here, Illinois courts
are guided by both the statute's plain language and the
legislative intent behind it. People v. Hanna, 800