California doctors who sued Gov. Gavin Newsom (D., Calif.) over his COVID-19 misinformation law are prepared to bring the case "all the way" to the Supreme Court, Fox News reported Wednesday.
Dr. Aaron Kheriaty and four other physicians sued Newsom in November, saying the law violates their First Amendment rights. The governor in September 2022 signed Assembly Bill 2098 to stop the spread of "misinformation and disinformation" regarding COVID. Originally set to take effect Jan. 1, the bill was stopped by a California federal district judge, who called it "unconstitutionally vague" and granted the doctors a preliminary injunction.
The California doctors argue that Assembly Bill 2098 violates their 1st and 14th Amendment rights by limiting free speech as well as disregarding due process with its vague definition of "misinformation," which requires doctors to adhere to the "scientific consensus" around COVID. Though "consensus" is not defined, doctors risk "losing their medical license" for failing to comply with the law.
"It has a chilling effect on physicians," Kheriaty said. "If physicians aren't sure whether what they're about to say violates the law, then they're just going to read from a script prepared by the California Department of Public Health."
While Newsom has defended the law, saying it only applies to "egregious instances in which a licensee is acting with malicious intent or clearly deviating from the required standard of care," the doctors say it is ripe for abuse and could be amended to apply to topics other than COVID.
At the height of the pandemic, Newsom flouted his own COVID restrictions to dine at the posh French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley.