Two California doctors filed a federal lawsuit that seeks to block a California law signed by Governor Gavin Newsom (D) last week that threatens the free speech rights of physicians to provide full informed consent to their patients about the risks of COVID-19 mRNA shots and benefits of early treatment with off-label drugs.
The new law threatens to punish doctors who do not support the government’s established narrative, called the “scientific consensus,” on COVID-19 with revocation of their license, and livelihood.
BREAKING: Doctors in CA have filed the first federal lawsuit to stop a new state law that shuts down physicians’ free speech rights, threatening license revocation and livelihoods. @MMcDonaldMD and @RX_forLiberty, plaintiffs represented by LJC, weigh in: https://t.co/pMy3qBkw19 pic.twitter.com/3OLEvTOIsu
— Liberty Justice Center (@LJCenter) October 4, 2022
Liberty Justice Center, a national nonprofit law firm dedicated to protecting Americans’ constitutional rights, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on behalf of Mark McDonald, M.D., a Los Angeles psychiatrist, and Jeff Barke, M.D., an Orange County primary care physician.
The Medical Board of California and the Attorney General of California are named defendants in the lawsuit.
McDonald and Barke “bring this challenge to the recently enacted Assembly Bill (AB) 2098, which chills the protected speech of medical professionals based on viewpoint,” the doctors claim in the lawsuit.
“AB 2098 declares that it will be deemed ‘unprofessional conduct’ for doctors to advise their patients of any view that deviates from the official position of the State regarding COVID-19,” the plaintiffs assert. “It directs the Medical Board of California … to punish any doctor who ‘disseminates’ ‘misinformation,’ defined as anything that is not consistent with what the Board deems to be the official scientific consensus.”
“This imposition of official government-approved orthodoxy cannot survive First Amendment scrutiny and is at odds with the scientific method itself,” the complaint states.
I Chose to Fight , by @MMcDonaldMD https://t.co/87Y8DgTuzp
— Dr. Mark McDonald (@MMcDonaldMD) October 6, 2022
In a telephone interview with The Star News Network, McDonald, the author of United States of Fear: How America Fell Victim to a Mass Delusional Psychosis and Freedom From Fear: A 12 Step Guide to Personal and National Recovery, said back in December, he had received “an anonymous complaint from a non-patient through the California Medical Board alleging I was ‘spreading medical misinformation on my social media pages.”
McDonald continued his description of the events regarding the complaint:
I responded to the complaint and said that it was nonsense. And I was asked for more information regarding a specific post I had put on Twitter, stating that ivermectin is a useful and safe early treatment for infection of all things coronavirus. Six months passed and I didn’t hear anything back. I assumed that the anonymous complaint had simply been shelved because, of course, it was silly. And then about a month ago, I received an email from someone who described himself as an investigator in the division of investigation services for the California Medical Board stating that the Medical Board had decided to proceed with a formal investigation from the original complaint, and that he wished to schedule an interview with me.
In addition, the two doctors, as McDonald noted, are also seeking a preliminary injunction to protect their free speech rights as the case proceeds.
“It’s considered an emergency preliminary injunction request,” he said, “presumably before January 1, and the goal is to enjoin the bill from becoming actual law on January 1, as a sort of preemptory legal challenge.”
Daniel Suhr, managing attorney at the Liberty Justice Center, said in a statement:
We rely on our doctors to give us their best medical advice, yet the State of California is stopping doctors from doing just that. That’s not just wrong, it’s unconstitutional. Doctors enjoy the same free speech rights as other Americans. The State of California cannot define a so-called scientific consensus on an issue and then punish anyone who dares challenge it.
Liberty Justice Center observed the contradictory nature of AB 2098’s definition of “misinformation” as anything that is not in keeping with “contemporary scientific consensus.”
“Of course, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and other public health authorities have constantly shifted their public presentation of the scientific data,” the law center states. “Governor Newsom himself closed schools and even outdoor spaces— policies now widely acknowledged as unscientific and harmful.”
“If this period has taught us anything, it is that the scientific and medical environments are constantly evolving, as new information and studies confirm or reject prior policies,” McDonald said in a prepared statement in a press release.
“Doctors need the freedom to explore alternatives and share opinions that challenge the scientific consensus—that is inherent in the nature of the scientific enterprise,” he noted. “California cannot insert itself into the physician-patient relationship to impose its views on doctors and end all debate on these important questions.”
Additionally, at his Substack column, McDonald observed that while the California Medical Board “has targeted me personally, launching an ‘investigation’ into allegations that I ‘spread medical misinformation’ on my social media pages regarding masks, early treatment, and mRNA injections,” the lawsuit, nevertheless, “is not about me—it is a challenge to the constitutionality of AB 2098, as the law prohibits medical free speech.”
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Susan Berry, PhD, is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Mark McDonald (Right)” by Mark McDonald. Photo “Jeff Barke” by Jeff Barke.