Judge Blocks Calif. COVID 'Misinformation' Law

    Judge Blocks Calif. COVID 'Misinformation' Law
    Last updated Jan 27, 2023
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    • A US judge on Wednesday blocked the implementation of a California law aimed at punishing doctors who give patients “misinformation or disinformation" related to COVID. He's considering a pair of lawsuits challenging the law on free speech grounds.[1]
    • The law, known as Assembly Bill 2098, defines false information as anything "contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus" — including information about the risks of the virus, prevention, treatment methods, and vaccines.[2]
    • Senior US District Judge William Shubb of Sacramento ruled that the bill, which was signed last October by Gov. Gavin Newsom, was too vague for doctors to know what kind of statements might put them at risk of being punished for misinformation.[3]
    • Five California physicians filed a lawsuit against Newsom’s administration in November, saying that the law violates their First Amendment rights as well as their constitutional right to due process.[4]
    • The American Civil Liberties Union filed briefs supporting the plaintiffs, saying that while the state does have the power to punish doctors for spreading harmful misinformation, AB 2098 was a "blunt instrument" that went too far.[3]


    Right narrative

    This law is unconstitutional and the judge is right to block it. It violates Americans' right to freedom of speech and expression, and given there's no legal definition of "contemporary scientific consensus," it's unclear what exactly physicians can be penalized for. Doctors who give harmful advice to patients are already subject to malpractice lawsuits and discipline under existing state law; all Assembly Bill 2098 does is stifle important scientific debate around COVID.

    Left narrative

    Spreading COVID vaccine and treatment misinformation is medical malpractice and should be punished accordingly. Laws should exist to hold physicians accountable and make sure they don't spread COVID misinformation. Disinformation is a public health threat that existed long before this pandemic and will likely last long after. Unless these physicians are held accountable, the trust of the entire medical profession is in jeopardy.

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