On January 25, the case of Hoeg v. Newsom prompted a federal judge to pause California’s covid misinformation and disinformation law for violating the First and 14th Amendments to the Constitution.
Five doctors who are plaintiffs in the case say Assembly Bill 2098 violates their constitutional rights. These include Drs. Tracy Hoeg, Ram Duriseti, Aaron Kheriaty, Pete Mazolewski, and Azadeh Khatibi.
Gov. Gavin Newsom and other elected officials, including the president and members of the Medical Board of California, are named as defendants in the case (and there is also a second lawsuit, separate but related in nature, called Hoang v. Bonta that makes similar allegations).
AB 2098 puts a muzzle on California doctors, preventing them from providing information to their patients that the state deems to be “misinformation” or “disinformation.”
Doctors who advise and treat their patients based on science rather than lies face the potential loss of their medical license under AB 2098. (Related: Learn more about AB 2098 and what it threatens to do to California’s already corrupt medical system.)
Recognizing the merits of these cases, Senior U.S. District Judge William Shubb, a George W. Bush appointee, ruled it plausible that the Medical Board of California could be in direct violation of state law with AB 2098 “given the ambiguity of the term ‘scientific consensus’ and of the definition of ‘misinformation’ as a whole.”
“Because the definition of misinformation ‘fails to provide a person of ordinary intelligence fair notice of what is prohibited, [and] is so standardless that it authorizes or encourages seriously discriminatory enforcement,’ the provision is unconstitutionally vague,” Shubb decided, noting that his ruling weighs in favor of the plaintiffs having standing.
“Accordingly, the court concludes that plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of their vagueness challenges.”
AB 2098 is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment rights of doctors in the Golden State
Newsom signed AB 2098 into law last September, and it came into effect on January 1 of this year. It defines misinformation as “false information that is contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus,” as well as prohibits physicians from putting forth “misinformation or disinformation related to COVID-19, including false or misleading information regarding the nature and risks of the virus, its prevention and treatment; and the development, safety, and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.”
Any doctor in California who deviates from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidance concerning covid – no matter how outlandish – is now practicing medicine in violation of AB 2098.
“The state medical board is required by law to act against any licensed doctor charged with unprofessional conduct,” reported The Epoch Times. “The court’s ruling effectively halts the law while the legal challenge plays out.”
The American Civil Liberties Alliance (ACLA), the legal organization representing the doctors, maintains that AB 2098 puts its clients in a difficult position. They are no longer free to practice medicine, but are instead now being forced to lie to their patients and deprive them of information that the state of California has deemed as “false” or “misleading.”
AB 2098 stands in contrast to the First Amendment, ACLA says, which protects the rights of all Americans – including doctors – to speak and express themselves freely. Free speech doesn’t end where medicine begins, in other words.
“They are being put between a rock and a hard place, fearing repercussions for acting in their patients’ best interests by honestly giving them the information they believe their patients need in order to make informed care decisions,” ACLA wrote in a summary of the case shared on its website.
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