American Family News

Attorney: States Must Understand They Can’t Censor Physicians

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 their First Amendment rights; and argued that misinformation, according to the law, is basically anything that the state “doesn’t like.”

“And in July, we had an argument at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that went very well for our side,” Jacob Huebert, president of Liberty Justice Center, tells AFN. “The judges didn’t ask me any questions [but] they asked state lawyers many tough skeptical questions.

“So after that argument, it looked to a lot of people like the state was going to lose and this law was going to be declared unconstitutional.”

However, last month Governor Gavin Newsom (D-California) signed a bill to repeal the law. The repeal is set to take effect in January.

Now the Ninth Circuit has asked the parties in the lawsuit whether Newsom’s repeal should cause the lawsuit to be dismissed without a decision. Huebert explains why Liberty Justice Center has filed a brief arguing the lawsuit should not be dismissed because the law is still threatening doctors’ livelihoods as long as it’s in effect.

“It’s still making doctors censor themselves – and it will be in effect through the end of the year,” he says. “ So the court absolutely should issue a decision saying that this violates doctors’ First Amendment rights, and stopping the state of California from enforcing it through the end of the year and just making clear that this is a violation of the First Amendment so that they don’t try this again with another law.”

The Liberty Justice president says doctors need to be able to speak freely with their patients and give patients their best honest advice.

“If the courts don’t stop this now there’s the threat that California could do it again with whether with respect to COVID or respect to something else [or] with respect to other professions,” Huebert states. “And of course, other states could do that with respect to doctors and other professions as well.”

For that reason, he concludes, the Ninth Circuit needs to issue a decision before the end of the year to make clear to California and other state governments that they can’t enact medical censorship laws like this one.