Thursday, September 15, 2011

Great Ruling on Strange Issue

By guest blogger, Dore Louis

Judge Cooke has just issued an Order in an interesting matter.

In July of this year, Governor Scott signed into law Fla. Stat. § 790.338, which contained a few odd provisions. Basically, the statute provided a basis to impose sanctions upon a doctor or health care provider who asks a patient about gun ownership or otherwise discriminates against a patient because of gun ownership.

"According to the State’s legislative findings, the State passed the law in reaction to an incident in Ocala, Florida, where a physician advised the mother of a minor patient that she had thirty days to find a new pediatrician after the mother refused to answer questions about firearms in her home."

Governor Scott is our Tea Party Governor. Big free market ideas...'let the market sort it out, government shouldn't be telling us what to do, etc.'; so it seems odd to me that he would sign into law a regulation that mandates a physician treat a patient who that physician does not want to treat because he/she owns a gun. Free market theory would instruct that if there are enough gun owners in the marketplace, the physician will either change his/her ways or go out of business.

Turns out the reason the pediatrician was doing what he/she did, was because the American Academy of Pediatrics counsels physicians to give guidance on gun safety. We don't want kids like this walking around, no matter how cute they are.

But why should politics make sense? Thankfully, Judge Cooke is able, through her thoughtful order, to make sense of subjects I was not particularly good at in Law School - First Amendment and Preliminary Injunction Law. What are those standards?

"At issue in this litigation is a law directed at maintaining patients’ privacy rights regarding firearm ownership within the context of the doctor-patient relationship. In effect, however, the law curtails practitioners’ ability to inquire about whether patients own firearms and burdens their ability to deliver a firearm safety message to patients, under certain circumstances. The Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act thus implicates practitioners’ First Amendment rights of free speech. The Act also implicates patients’ freedom to receive information about firearm safety, which the First Amendment protects."


"The State has attempted to inveigle this Court to cast this matter as a Second Amendment case. Despite the State’s insistence that the right to “keep arms” is the primary constitutional right at issue in this litigation, a plain reading of the statute reveals that this law in no way affects such rights. The right to keep arms refers to the right to “retain,” “to have in custody,” and “to hold” weapons, including firearms."


"I will not speak to the wisdom of the legislation now before me. Questions of a law’s constitutionality do not create “a license for courts to judge the wisdom, fairness, or logic of legislative choices.” FCC v. Beach Commc’ns, Inc., 508 U.S. 307, 313 (1993). The First Amendment, however, “was not designed to facilitate legislation,” whether wise or not. FEC v. Wis. Right to Life, Inc., 551 U.S. 449, 503 (2007) (Scalia, J., concurring). Based on the foregoing, I find that Plaintiffs have a substantial likelihood of succeeding on the merits of their constitutional challenge."


"Each of the factors for a preliminary injunction weighs in Plaintiffs’ favor. For that reason, the Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction (ECF No. 16) is GRANTED. The State is preliminarily enjoined from enforcing § 790.338(1), (2), (5), and (6). The State is also preliminarily enjoined from enforcing § 790.338(8), to the extent that it provides that violations of § 790.338(1) and (2) constitute grounds for disciplinary action. The State is further preliminarily enjoined from enforcing § 456.072(1)(mm), to the extent that it provides that violations of § 790.338(1), (2), (5), and (6) shall constitute grounds for which disciplinary actions specified under § 456.072(2) may be taken."

I am a bit saddened that there were no Yosemite Sam references. Here is the Order.

Wollschlaeger Order


Anonymous said...

The First Amendment is first for a reason.

Rumpole said...

Dore needs his own blog. Dore is great. Dore just can't pick football games (but then neither can I- but really, Miami? Against the Patriots? )

Anonymous said...

Why do you hate the 2nd Amendment?

Calli said...

What a treat, to visit this blog and find legal analysis, not a USA Today - type cut and paste job.

Way to go, Captain Dore!