A California judge reportedly issued an injunction against a state law authorizing the Medical Board of California to discipline physicians who support opinions about COVID-19 that are not in line with the “consensus.”
The law, known as Assembly Bill 2098, was scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2023. Under the law, the Medical Board of California and the Osteopathic Medical Board of California could discipline physicians who “disseminate” information about COVID that is not consistent with the “contemporary scientific consensus.”
But in November, a group of five California doctors filed a lawsuit against the administration of Gov. Gavin Newsom, saying the law violated their First Amendment rights and constitutional right to due process.
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Aaron Kheriaty, MD, is listed as one of the doctors in the lawsuit and tweeted Wednesday that a judge granted her request for a restraining order against AB 2098.
The injunction temporarily halts implementation of the law while the case is heard in court.
“The verdict bodes well for our case,” Kheriaty tweeted. “It shows that our arguments that this law is unconstitutional have strong pre-trial plausibility. Not to outrun ourselves, of course, or try to predict the ultimate outcome of the case, but this is a very positive development.
“One more detail here,” he added. “The injunction also states that we five physicians have standing to challenge the law. This is important because a similar lawsuit against AB2098 was dismissed based on a ruling that plaintiffs did not have standing.”
The New Civil Liberties Alliance represents the Doctors, or NCLA, a non-partisan civil rights firm.
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In November, NCLA attorney Jenin Younes said California’s new “misinformation” law was a result of the increasing censorship mentality gripping many lawmakers in America.
“For this shocking law to go through the state legislature and be signed by Governor Newsom shows that far too many Americans do not understand the First Amendment,” Younes said.
The doctors said the law violated their First Amendment rights because it restricted their ability to communicate with their patients during treatment.
“To protect Americans’ right to freedom of speech and expression, the First Amendment applies not only to the expression of majority opinions, but also to minority views,” the complaint reads.
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Doctors also argue that the “contemporary scientific consensus” is “undefined in law and logically undefinable.”
One plaintiff, Dr. Tracy Hoeg, wrote in the lawsuit that she “is afraid to tell my patients something that I know is consistent with the current scientific literature but may not yet be accepted by the California Medical Board.” Physicians must “feel free to speak truthfully with their patients if they are to earn and keep their trust,” she said.
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Hoeg was the first or senior author of nine epidemiological analyses, six of which have been published in peer-reviewed journals on topics such as the effectiveness of mask requirements and the risk-benefit analysis of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines in children. She said that California law “puts physicians who are simply trying to make appropriate and individualized recommendations in a difficult position, especially considering they may not know what the ‘consensus’ of the California Medical Board is at the moment.” or whether it also evolves as our understanding evolves.”
Brianna Herlihy contributed to this report.