California’s newly passed law to punish doctors who share alleged “misinformation” about COVID or the COVID-19 vaccine has been blocked by a federal judge who ruled that the definition of “misinformation” is unconstitutional. The law, the judge said, was too vague.
U.S. District Judge William Shubb ruled on Wednesday that the law, which was passed as Assembly Bill 2098 and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom last September, is unconstitutional. The law went into effect on January 1.
“Because the definition of misinformation fails to provide a person of ordinary intelligence fair notice of what is prohibited, [and] is so standardless that it authorizes or encourages seriously discriminatory enforcement,’ the provision is unconstitutionally vague,” Shubb wrote, the Daily Wire reported. “Accordingly, the court concludes that plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of their vagueness challenges.”
The ruling came amid opposition to the law by five doctors, who filed a lawsuit against the governor in Hoeg v. Newsom, arguing that it was unconstitutional under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. A second lawsuit called Hoang v. Bonta alleged similar concerns.
Under the now-blocked law, COVID misinformation is described as “false information that is contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus.” Doctors were barred from providing any sort of “misinformation or disinformation related to COVID-19, including 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.”
The law was widely decried by free speech proponents as being grossly unconstitutional, infringing on the rights of medical practitioners and scientists.
According to the Daily Wire, the court’s decision only suspends the law while a legal appeal from the Newsom administration seeks to overturn the ruling.
Aaron Kheriaty, who was one of the doctors in the lawsuit, supported the ruling on social media.
2/ The ruling bodes well for our case: 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.
— Aaron Kheriaty, MD (@akheriaty) January 26, 2023