Mary Lou Serafine issued the following comments in reaction to the Decision Meeting Material issued by the Texas Sunset Commission before its January 11 meeting:
“I think the Sunset Commission’s recommendation that the legislature enact another licensing regime for psychologists, instead of merely certifying them, is a mistake.
Continue reading “Statement on Sunset Commission Decision Meeting Material”
“A certification for psychologists would let the State put their stamp of approval on certain practitioners. A license allows the State to go the extra step of banning and punishing people who talk about behavior, the mind, and the problems of life, to people who want to listen, without the State’s permission. And it’s a windfall to the organized lobby of professional psychologists who, ultimately, become the enforcers capable of driving out competition and forcing higher prices on the public.
“The Sunset Commission’s staff report made the identical argument that the psychology board made in federal court, and this was rejected: that the public needs to be protected from psychological advice except from that of experts of whom the government approves.
“The idea of getting the ‘stakeholders’ together to come up with a new definition of the practice of psychology is doomed to fail. No definition will meet the requirements of freedom of speech consistent with the Fifth Circuit’s decision.
“On its current course, the legislature is set to generate more constitutional litigation and less choice surrounding mental health in Texas.”
On November 28, 2016, based on the opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in the Serafine v. Branaman case, the federal district court ordered the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists to pay Serafine $48,092.25 for her successful enforcement of her First Amendment civil rights under the U.S. Constitution.
The court also entered an injunction against the Board’s further enforcement of those portions of the Psychologists’ Licensing Act that had been struck down as unconstitutional.
With this ruling, the Serafine v. Branaman case is now formally closed.
The state of Texas created the Sunset process in 1977 to question the need for and success of agencies which execute laws approved by the Legislature. Reviews occur once every 12 years. The Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists is currently under review and the Commission’s staff issued their reports earlier this month, available here and here.
In response, Mary Lou Serafine filed comments as part of the public comment process, which are posted HERE.
In summary, she emphasized that people should be free to talk and listen to whomever they please. “It is important to emphasize,” she wrote, “that the only thing psychologists do is talk. They do not touch the body, build homes or bridges, or affect public health and safety.”
Serafine also described the Serafine v. Branaman case for the Commission.
Her criticism of the Sunset Commission Staff Report, she said, is that the substance of “Issue 4” in the Report was “identical to the psychology board’s arguments in federal court—in other words, the exact ones that were rejected as a justification for the unconstitutional licensing act that was struck down.”
She additionally suggested that the needs of the public and the imperative of constitutional rights can equally be met by certifying psychologists instead of licensing them.