President's weekly report — July 31, 2015

July 31, 2015 | By ROB RIVETT

Free speech in Texas

There’s a monkey on the back of free speech when vets cannot prescribe this flea treatment over the telephone

We filed this amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to take up Hines v. Alldredge (Texas Board of Veterinary Examiners).  Texas law forbids vets from offering advice without first physically examining the animal. And even though this rule forbids Dr. Hines from communicating information to people, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the law is not even subject to the stringent constitutional standards that apply to restrictions on freedom of speech. Instead, Dr. Hines’s communication is only an “activity,” not speech, and the First Amendment is therefore irrelevant.  That’s because of the doctrine of “professional speech” purports to limit the right of speech by professionals  In this case, Dr. Hines is not even able to tell a pet owner whose dog has fleas what to do without first touching the dog.  But anyone other than a licensed vet is allowed to say, “go to the pet store and buy flea shampoo”  or “there’s a monkey app for that.” Our brief explains that the courts should not countenance such prior restraint when it will stifle innovation in the provision of health care.  For more see our full blog post here.

Waters of the United States

For an update on the latest case developments on the various challenges to the Waters of the United States rule — EPA’s wetlands extravaganza — see our blog here.