Conformity of thought is now required whether it is online, on college campuses, or, if you are in California, in a physician-patient relationship.
PayPal recently introduced a $2,500 fine for anyone involved in “the sending, posting, or publication of any messages, content, or materials” that — in “PayPal’s sole discretion” — “promote misinformation.”
After a firestorm of criticism, PayPal withdrew the policy, claiming the whole thing was a misunderstanding and was not official policy — hardly a convincing explanation from a site with a history of banning those it considers politically incorrect.
But California physicians have had no such relief.
Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed California Assembly Bill 2098, making it the first state to attempt to censor what physicians can say about COVID-19 to their patients. This is a dangerous, and likely unconstitutional, effort that other states must resist.
Doctors challenge California law which punishes them for “deviating from the covid-19 scientific consensus”
On September 30, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill 2098, which authorizes state regulators to discipline doctors who “disseminate misinformation or disinformation related to COVID-19.” The law, which is scheduled to take effect on January 1, defines “misinformation” as advice “contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus.” Implicitly acknowledging the First Amendment issues raised by A.B. 2098, Newsom averred that “it is narrowly tailored to apply only to those egregious instances in which a licensee is acting with malicious intent or clearly deviating from the required standard of care while interacting directly with a patient under their care.”
But as the New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA) points out in a federal lawsuit it filed yesterday, Newsom’s signing statement does not alter the broad language of A.B. 2098, which will be enforced as written. The NCLA, which is representing five California physicians who object to the new law, argues that it violates the First Amendment by punishing doctors based on the views they express and the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of due process by imposing an unconstitutionally vague standard of acceptable speech.
A.B. 2098 redefines the “unprofessional conduct” policed by the Medical Board of California, a state agency charged with licensing and disciplining physicians, to include COVID-19 “misinformation.” That category includes “false or misleading information” regarding “the nature and risks of the virus,” “its prevention and treatment,” and “the development, safety, and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.”