Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) of California has suffered a legal setback in his plan to “punish doctors who share alleged “‘misinformation’ about COVID,” according to a report in The Daily Wire.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge William Shubb blocked Assembly Bill 2098, signed by Newsom in September and enacted into law on Jan 1.
Shubb noted the law was unconstitutional, ruling:
“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 determined the vague wording in the statute opened the door for biased interpretations of the law, writing: “Accordingly, the court concludes that plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of their vagueness challenges.”
Five physicians moved forward the lawsuit against the governor. In the suit, known as Hoeg v. Newsom, medical professionals argued that the law was unconstitutional under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
Notably, a second related lawsuit, Hoang v. Bonta, expressed similar concerns and grievances.
Newsom has been a staunch proponent of Dr. Anthony Fauci and mask and vaccine mandates. Assembly Bill 2098 was initiated to minimize the publishing of reports that question the safety or efficacy of COVID vaccinations.
The so-called “misinformation law” defined “false” or “misinformation” as information contradicting the “contemporary scientific consensus.” The law prohibits individuals — even medical experts — from posting or publishing “misinformation” “regarding the nature and risks of the virus, its prevention and treatment; and the development, safety, and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.”
The ruling suspends the law while the state seeks an appeal to overturn the ruling.
The nonpartisan, nonprofit civil rights group representing the five doctors in the case, the New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA), issued the following statement after Shubb’s ruling:
“NCLA is gratified Judge Shubb has recognized that AB 2098, which seeks to punish California doctors for giving patients information that departs from the so-called contemporary scientific consensus about Covid, creates an impossible standard for physicians to follow and would result in silencing physicians who disagree with state orthodoxy.”
Jenin Younces, counsel for NCLA, added:
“The speed with which he issued his decision no doubt reflects the significance of the constitutional problems the law presents, as well as the negative consequences it would have for doctor-patient relationships.”
Greg Dolin, senior litigation counsel for NCLA, cited multiple problems with the legislation:
“This Act is a blatant attempt to silence doctors whose views, though based on thorough scientific research, deviate from the government-approved ‘party line,’” Dolin stated. “At no point has the State of California been able to articulate the line between permissible and impermissible speech, further illustrating how problematic the statute is. NCLA is pleased the Court recognized all the problems with AB2098 and enjoined this unconstitutional law.”
Aaron Keriaty, MD, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, tweeted:
“The ruling bodes well for our case: it indicates that our arguments that this law is unconstitutional have strong pre-trial facial plausibility.”
Dr. Tracy Hoeg, another plaintiff in the case, shared her strong feeling that physicians must “feel free to speak truthfully with their patients if they wish to gain and maintain their trust.”