Case Overview

Amicus Brief in Support of Plaintiff-Appellant and Reversal - Bates v. Pakseresht

Under a new rule in Oregon, prospective foster parents must pledge to be the government’s mouthpiece on gender identity to receive a license to foster. If applicants refuse, whether based on a disagreement with Oregon on gender identity or for any other reason, they cannot become foster parents. That violates the First Amendment.

A federal court in Oregon agreed that the Oregon rule compels speech and discriminates against applicants based on Oregon’s disagreement with their viewpoint. Yet the court still upheld the rule because it assessed that the rule was necessary to promote the welfare of LGBT foster children and youth. Plaintiff Jessica Bates, a widow and mother of five who was refused a license to foster because of her beliefs, has appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

On January 18, 2024, FIRE filed an amicus brief asking the Ninth Circuit to reverse the lower court’s decision and to order it to block the rule. As FIRE explains, all viewpoint discriminatory regulations violate the First Amendment, and there were less restrictive means available to Oregon that would not violate foster parents’ right to freedom of speech.