Doctors Sue Newsom Administration over Medical ‘Misinformation’ Law

Five physicians are challenging a California “misinformation” law that would allow the state medical board to discipline doctors who disseminate information about Covid-19 that diverges from the “contemporary scientific consensus.”

The group of doctors sued Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration, asking a district court in California to block the law from taking effect. The group argues the law, which is set to take effect on January 1, would violate their First Amendment rights and constitutional right to due process. 

The complaint argues that the new law “impedes their ability to communicate with their patients in the course of treatment.”

“In safeguarding Americans’ rights to free speech and expression, the First Amendment applies not only to expression of majority opinions, but to minority views as well,” the complaint reads, noting that minority views could include anything from the efficacy of mask mandates to the possible risks of post-vaccination adverse effects.

The doctors argue that “contemporary scientific consensus” is “undefined in the law and undefinable as a matter of logic.”

“No one can know, at any given time, the ‘consensus’ of doctors and scientists on various matters related to prevention and treatment of COVID-19,” the complaint adds. “And even if such a poll could theoretically be taken, who would qualify to be polled? Only those doctors treating COVID-19 patients? All doctors and scientists, or only those in certain fields?”

The law would apply to the Medical Board of California and the Osteopathic Medical Board of California. Both boards’ members are appointed by the governor and state lawmakers, the lawsuit says. Seven of the two boards’ 15 members are “public members” who may not be licensed physicians.

Dr. Tracy Hoeg, a plaintiff in the suit who has been the senior author of nine epidemiological analyses, said in the complaint that she is “afraid of saying something to my patients that I know is consistent with the current scientific literature but may not yet be accepted by the California Medical Board.”

Six of the nine epidemological analyses were published in peer-reviewed journals and covered topics including the efficacy of mask mandates and the risks and benefits of Covid-19 vaccines for children.

Physicians must “feel free to speak truthfully with their patients if they wish to gain and maintain their trust,” she said.

Jenin Younes, counsel for the New Civil Liberties Alliance, a nonpartisan civil rights firm that is representing the doctors, said in a statement that the law is the “the result of an increasingly censorious mentality that has gripped many lawmakers in this country.”

“That this shocking bill passed through the state legislature and was signed into law by Governor Newsom demonstrates that far too many Americans do not understand the First Amendment,” Younes said.

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