Noah Feldman writes:
Should the First Amendment protect what doctors can say to their patients in the privacy of the examining room? Weighing state prohibitions on gay conversion therapy, liberals have tended to think the state should be able to regulate medical treatment without worrying about free speech.
Now the shoe’s on the other foot: Florida’s ban on physicians asking patients about gun ownership puts liberals in the position of wanting to protect the doctor-patient relationship. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit upheld the Florida “docs vs. Glocks” law this week on the ground that the state’s interest in protecting gun ownership outweighs physicians’ free-speech interests — a result sure to trouble liberals.
This decision is problematic in its application of free-speech law, as First Amendment scholar Eugene Volokh points out. But what’s really wrong is our whole framework in using free speech to analyze communication between a medical professional and a patient.
Read more on Bloomberg. Reading the court decisions from Florida, it seems pretty apparent that the jurists are twisting themselves into pretzels to justify trying to find the law constitutional. It’s a bad law, it should be overturned, and the govt. should stay the hell out of doctor-patient conversations and treatment unless there’s a clear threat to patient health or safety.