A California judge issued a preliminary injunction against a state law that empowers the Medical Board of California to discipline physicians who support opinions about COVID-19 that are not in line with the “consensus,” according to reports.
The law, known as Assembly Bill 2098, was set to take effect on Jan. 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 in line with the “contemporary scientific consensus.”
But in November, a group of five California physicians filed a lawsuit against California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration, saying the law violates their First Amendment rights and constitutional right to due process.
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Aaron Kheriaty, MD, is listed as one of the physicians in the lawsuit, and on Wednesday he posted on Twitter that a judge granted their request for a preliminary injunction against AB 2098.
The preliminary injection temporarily halts the implementation of the law while the case is tried in court.
“The ruling bodes well for our case,” Kheriaty tweeted. “It indicates that our arguments that this law is unconstitutional have strong pre-trial facial plausibility. Not to get ahead of ourselves, of course, or try to predict the final outcome of the case, but this is a very positive development.
“One more detail here,” he added. “The preliminary injunction ruling also establishes that we five physicians have standing to challenge the law. This is important because a similar challenge filed against AB2098 was dismissed based on a ruling that the plaintiffs lacked standing.”
The New Civil Liberties Alliance represents the doctors, or NCLA, which is a nonpartisan civil rights firm.
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In November, Jenin Younes, counsel for the NCLA said California’s new “misinformation” law is the result of the increasing censorious mentality that has gripped many lawyers in America.
“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.
Doctors said the law violates their First Amendment rights because it impedes their ability to communicate with their patients during 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 said.
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Doctors also argue that “contemporary scientific consensus” is “undefined in the law and undefinable as a matter of logic.”
One plaintiff, Dr. Tracy Hoeg, wrote in the lawsuit 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.” Physicians must “feel free to speak truthfully with their patients if they wish to gain and maintain their trust,” she said.
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Hoeg has been the first, or senior, author of nine epidemiological analyses, six of which have been published in peer-reviewed journals on topics like the effectiveness of mask mandates and risk-benefit analysis of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines in children. She said the California law “puts physicians who are simply trying to give appropriate and individualized recommendations in a difficult position, particularly considering they may not know what the California Medical Board’s ‘consensus’ is at the moment or if it also evolves as our understanding evolves .”
Brianna Herlihy contributed to this report.