A federal judge questioned the new California law that penalizes doctors for sharing COVID-19 “misinformation.”
The new law, which came into effect on January 1 this year, prohibits doctors from spreading what the state deems to be misinformation to patients, or risk being penalized for “unprofessional conduct,” which could result in their licenses being revoked.
Here’s a summary of the case so far if you’re not up to date.
The law has been challenged through separate lawsuits filed by two organizations and a group of doctors on the grounds of First Amendment violations. They filed a motion at the US District Court of Sacramento to hold the law until the cases are concluded.
In a hearing, Senior Judge William Shubb described the law’s definition of misinformation as “nonsense.”
We obtained a copy of the order for you here.
“Because AB 2098 [the misinformation law] implicates [plaintiff’s] First Amendment right to receive information, she has standing,” the court wrote.
“Vague statutes are particularly objectionable when they involve sensitive areas of First Amendment freedoms because they operate to inhibit the exercise of those freedoms,” the court added, referring to a 2001 case, California Teachers Association v. State Board of Education.
“When the challenged law implicates First Amendment rights, a facial challenge based on vagueness is appropriate.”
The court granted the plaintiffs a hearing to challenge the law and blocked the enforcement of the law until the case is decided.
The law defines misinformation as “false information that is contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus contrary to the standard of care.”
Shubb noted that “standard of care” is not a new principle, but argued, “contemporary scientific consensus” is….