The law “would have subjected physicians to discipline for sharing information that departs from the ‘contemporary scientific consensus’ on Covid-19 with their patients.”
Earlier this year, I reported that District Court Judge Judge William Shubb temporarily blocked the enforcement of California’s AB 2098, a measure that punished doctors for not pushing the state-directive narratives surrounding COVID-19.
The law defines misinformation as “false information that is contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus contrary to the standard of care.” Judge Shubb called the law’s definition of misinformation “nonsense.”
The NCLA argued that “The term ‘contemporary scientific consensus’ is undefined in the law and undefinable as a matter of logic. No one can know, at any given time, the ‘consensus’ of doctors and scientists on various matters related to prevention and treatment of Covid-19. And even if such a poll could theoretically be taken, who would qualify to be polled? Only those doctors treating Covid-19 patients?
All doctors and scientists, or only those in certain fields? Who determines which fields? How often would such polls be taken to ensure the results are based on the most up-to-date science? How large a majority (or plurality) of the polled professionals qualifies as a ‘consensus’? The very existence of these questions illustrates that any attempt at a legal definition of ‘scientific consensus’ according to which doctors must operate in their day-to-day practice is impractical and borders on the absurd.”
The New Civil Liberties Alliance has now announced that California Governor Gavin Newsom has quietly repealed the measure.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill to repeal a law that would have subjected physicians to discipline for sharing information that departs from the “contemporary scientific consensus” on Covid-19 with their patients.
NCLA celebrates this great victory for its brave clients, who stood up to this outrageous attack on the First Amendment: Drs. Tracy Hoeg, Ram Duriseti, Aaron Kheriaty, Pete Mazolewski and Azadeh Khatibi, in Høeg, et al. v. Newsom, et al., a lawsuit challenging the vague and censorious statute.
Signed into law in September 2022, California Assembly Bill (AB) 2098 violated Medical Board of California-certified physicians’ First Amendment rights to free speech and their Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process of law. It interfered with the ability of doctors and their patients to freely communicate, serving as a weapon to intimidate and punish doctors who dissented from mainstream views.
Physicians and individuals on social media threatened several of NCLA’s clients with using AB 2098 to take their licenses away, corroborating evidence that the law’s insidious intent was always to silence doctors who depart from state orthodoxy on Covid-19.
And with a stroke of a pen, AB2098, California's COVID medical censorship law, has been quietly repealed by the very same people who had ridiculously wanted it in place.
— Azadeh Khatibi, MD, MS, MPH (@AzadehKhatibi) October 1, 2023
The news suggests that Newsom is methodically positioning himself as a centrist voice of reason. I wish him tons of good luck with that approach.
I certainly will enjoy the new governing style while it lasts.
However, I will not forget his imperial COVID orders:
Governor Newsom has led the nation’s fight against COVID-19, implementing the most robust vaccination and testing programs in the country. Under Governor Newsom’s leadership, California has set the standard when it comes to vaccine and masking measures, including requiring that workers in health care settings be fully vaccinated, announcing that the COVID-19 vaccine will be added to the list of vaccinations required to attend school in-person when fully approved, requiring masking in schools, and implementing a standard that all school staff and all state workers either show proof of full vaccination or be tested.
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