Case Update: On October 1, 2023, after a year of litigation, California conceded the inevitable and repealed California Assembly Bill 2098 (AB2098), the State’s blatantly unconstitutional attempt to censor the free speech of doctors throughout the state.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.