McDonald v. Lawson

Two doctors are standing up against AB 2098 to protect physicians’ free speech rights and to ensure they can advise their patients without interference.

Case Update: On October 1, 2023, after a year of litigation, California conceded the inevitable and repealed California Assembly Bill 2098 (AB2098), the State’s blatantly unconstitutional attempt to censor the free speech of doctors throughout the state. The repeal comes on the heels of oral argument in McDonald v. Lawson, where the state faced an icy reception from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Read the press release on LJC’s victory for free speech here.


Science is not static. By its very nature science is constantly evolving and the subject of unending debate.

That was accepted in medical and academic circles prior to the politically driven reactions to COVID-19. However, over the past two years, politicians and public health officials have named themselves the arbiters of “scientific consensus.”

Now, a new California law places even more power in the hands of bureaucrats to determine acceptable medical treatments and advice. Assembly Bill 2098, signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on September 30, 2022, authorizes the Medical Board of California to pursue professional sanctions and even license revocation against doctors who share information about COVID-19 that challenges the “scientific consensus.”

Under the terms of the new law, Assembly Bill 2098, the Medical Board is authorized to punish doctors who share “misinformation” with their patients, and then defines “misinformation” as anything that “is contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus.” Of course, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and other public health authorities have constantly shifted their public presentation of the scientific data. Governor Newsom himself closed schools and even outdoor spaces— policies now widely acknowledged as unscientific and harmful.

Two doctors are standing up against the power grab by California bureaucrats to protect physicians’ free speech rights and to ensure they can advise their patients without interference.

Dr. Mark McDonald, MD, a Los Angeles psychiatrist, and Dr. Jeff Barke, MD, an Orange County primary care physician, have fought to reopen schools, provide early treatments for COVID-19, and help children and adults manage stress and uncertainty. Now, they are fighting for their right—and the right of all California physicians—to provide the best care possible to their patients.

The doctors are represented by the Liberty Justice Center, a national nonprofit law firm dedicated to protecting Americans’ constitutional rights.


Jacob Huebert

Jacob Huebert

Jacob Huebert serves as the president of the Liberty Justice Center. He previously served as the Liberty Justice Center’s Director of Litigation. In that role, he successfully litigated cases to protect economic liberty, free speech and other constitutional rights. Jacob and his work have appeared in numerous national media outlets, including the Wall Street JournalNew York Times and Fox News Channel.

Riley Stephens

Reilly Stephens

Reilly Stephens is a Counsel at Liberty Justice Center where he assists in cases to protect the rights to free speech, economic liberty, private property, and other Constitutional rights in courts across the country.

Case Press Releases

Case In The News

American Family News
January 8, 2024

(American Family News)—On January 1, the Golden State repealed a law preventing doctors from spreading “misinformation” about COVID-19. The repeal was scheduled in 2023 after Liberty Justice Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of two California doctors who wanted to be free to tell their patients what they really think about the virus and...

BNN Breaking News
January 7, 2024

(BNN Breaking News)—A Milestone for Medical Professional’s Freedom of Speech In a landmark victory for free speech and medical professionals, California has repealed Assembly Bill 2098 (AB2098) on January 1, 2024. This controversial legislation had previously permitted the state to strip physicians of their medical licenses if they contradicted the...

American Family News
November 8, 2023

(American Family News)—In late 2022, California passed a law that said doctors could lose their license for giving patients so-called “misinformation” about COVID, even one time. Shortly after the law was passed, Liberty Justice Center sued to challenge the law in federal court on behalf of California doctors for violating...

The Center Square
November 1, 2023

(The Center Square)—The Liberty Justice Center urged the Ninth Circuit Court to issue a judgment against a California law, which will be repealed at the beginning of 2024 but still threatens doctors with suspension of their medical licenses for spreading what the state has deemed is COVID-19 information outside of...

The Center Square
October 6, 2023

(The Center Square)—California quietly repealed a law making a doctor spreading state-determined COVID-19 misinformation guilty of unprofessional conduct that could cost a doctor his or her medical license. AB 2098, signed into law in 2022, allows the Medical Board of California to revoke the license of doctors who share any...

The Washington Times
October 3, 2023

(The Washington Times)—California has repealed a misinformation law that restricted the advice doctors could give patients about COVID-19, bowing to mounting legal pressure. The legislation was signed into law in September 2022 and took effect in January. It tried to define COVID disinformation as “unprofessional conduct” and empower the Medical...

American Family News
October 3, 2023

(American Family News)—Under Assembly Bill 2098, a doctor could lose his or her medical license for giving patients so-called “misinformation” about COVID, which the measure defines as anything that goes against the contemporary scientific consensus. In other words, a single instance of a doctor telling a patient a single piece...

Northern California Record
October 2, 2023

(Northern California Record)—Facing the risk of a stinging loss before a federal appeals panel, California’s Democrat-dominated legislature has repealed a law that would have allowed the state to strip the medical licenses of any doctors who discussed information about Covid that ran counter to what the state believed to be...

The Center Square
July 20, 2023

(The Center Square)—California’s new law, AB 2098 – which allows professional sanctions against doctors challenging the state-defined ‘scientific consensus’ on COVID-19 – faced oral argument in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Challenging the law is two physicians championing free speech rights backed by the Liberty...

Wall Street Journal
October 11, 2022
California Gov. Gavin Newsom made a splash this summer by running ads in Florida that claimed “freedom is under attack in your state.” The ads should have aired in his own state, which is the land of lockdowns and mask mandates. And under a new state law, doctors may even be punished...



McDonald v. Lawson


October 4, 2022


U.S. District Court for the Central District of California




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