Skip to content
Apply
Stories

Covid misinformation tests doctors’ free speech rights

People in this story

Bloomberg Law, March 2022

Doctors who have called the Covid vaccine a hoax or say it changes people’s DNA infuriate public health watchdogs, but the First Amendment could protect medical professionals from aggressive attempts by state licensing boards to crack down on false information. Medical professionals speaking outside the context of a one-on-one doctor-patient relationship have traditionally enjoyed the full free-speech protections of the First Amendment. The government must likely show it has good reason—a “compelling interest”—to restrict a doctor’s speech, and that its action is “narrowly tailored” to prevent the harms that could result from the speech.

The goal is to allow doctors to participate freely in public debate, and to prevent the government from imposing a single view of disputed matters, and from overriding the rights of citizens to hear all sides of a debate and come to their own conclusions. Disciplining doctors for public statements will therefore be a matter of “threading the needle,” said Rodney Smolla, dean and professor of law at the Delaware Law School of Widener University, in Wilmington, Delaware. State medical boards will likely be limited to taking action only against “over-the-top statements that no reasonable doctor could make,” he said.

Continue reading at Bloomberg Law.

More Stories

image of karen read along with prosecutors on both sides

What do prosecutors have to prove to convict Karen Read of second-degree murder?

04.12.2024
image of house with sold sign outside with caption

Real Estate Commissions Face Added Scrutiny in Justice Probe

04.12.2024
image of graphic of white and brown chemicals

What to Know About the EPA Limits on “Forever Chemicals” in Drinking Water and Your Health

04.12.24
All Stories