May 24, 2016

"Docs v. Glocks" case not about guns but speech, PLF says

By Caleb R. Trotter Attorney

Last month, PLF filed a brief in Wollschlaeger v. Governor of the State of Florida. The case, also known as “Docs v. Glocks,” will be argued in June at the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Recently, I was interviewed for an article in the Florida Record about PLF’s brief and the issue in the case. If you’ll recall, the case is about how much scrutiny content-based restrictions on the speech of professionals should receive from the courts. In this case, a Florida law prohibits doctors from asking their patients about their gun possession unless the question is directly relevant to the patient’s care.

As I note for the article, and as PLF’s brief states, all content-based speech restrictions should receive the highest scrutiny–strict scrutiny–when reviewed by the court. Recent decisions by the United States Supreme Court have confirmed this constitutional requirement, and such stringent review should not be alarming to liberty advocates. Because protecting free speech is a core constitutional value, it makes sense that government must have a compelling reason for restricting the content of speech, and the restriction must also be narrowly tailored to that end. There is no principled reason for distinguishing between the speech of doctors, politicians, or private citizens when restricting the content of their speech.

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