November 08, 2003

Can we try to persuade others that a law is bad?

A reader called my attention to Conant v. Walters, a case in the 9th Circuit upholding a permanent injunction against the Government's investigation of physicians merely because they choose to discuss marijuana with their patients.

The majority based its holding on the first amendment rights of doctors and on the protection of physician-patient communications. Along the way, the opinion quotes language from the district court's ruling that supports the rights of people to discuss information as a prerequisite for deciding whether they will petition the government to change the law:

"Petitioning Congress or federal agencies for redress of a grievance or a change in policy is a timehonored tradition. In the marketplace of ideas, few questions are more deserving of free-speech protection than whether regulations affecting health and welfare are sound public policy. In the debate, perhaps the status quo will (and should) endure. But patients and physicians are certainly entitled to urge their view. To hold that physicians are barred from communicating to patients sincere medical judgments would disable patients from understanding their own situations well enough to participate in the debate."

Now that's a pro-democracy ruling if ever there was one. Thank you, Ninth Circuit!

Posted by Carey at November 8, 2003 02:39 PM

It looks better if you do it like this:

There is nothing like chickens to make your day go by. In fact, without our clucking feathered friends, we would only be half human. Support chickens! And by the way, Howard Dean is not a chicken. But you should support him anyway.
The tag you're looking for is <BLOCKQUOTE>.

But that's neither here nor there.

Posted by: Heidi at November 8, 2003 02:50 PM

Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

The tag you're looking for is <EATMYSHORTS>. This should make everything look much better. :)

I support Howard Dean because while not himself a chicken, Howard Dean supports chickens.

Thank you.

Posted by: Carey at November 8, 2003 03:09 PM

But your blog entry would be so much neater with a block quote!

Posted by: Heidi at November 8, 2003 03:43 PM

You're a genius, glory.

Posted by: Heidi at November 8, 2003 09:22 PM

Indeed. It seems that it's becoming commonplace that certain elements of our society can't seem to police themselves when it comes to adhering to the simple and obvious concept of Freedom of Speech (at least in this case). It seems that we're increasingly having to defend ourselves in court, all the while being accused of being "anti-American" when we don't toe the party line.

My concern is this: where does this stop and how can it be stopped? Is this now or will this be another McCarthyism-like witch hunt? While undeniably similar, I'm thinking not. It seems this current movement is much more subtle and insidious, and thus potentially more damaging. McCarthyism was defeated within a decade because a small group of people orchestrated it, operated brazenly in the open, and relied on fear to keep the population and critics in line...much like the Nazis did in the 30's. This new trend is much more subtle and relies on ignorance and our susceptibility to propaganda, both from the government and the private sector.

Is this some kind of overwhelming conspiracy orchestrated from the top? Who knows? Personally, I think it's doubtful but it matters not--the effects are the same. We are increasingly having to defend ourselves from laws WE pass or at the very least condone through the voting process (Colorado's Amendment 2 which was approved by voters but struck down by the Supreme Court in 1995, the Patriot Act, and this case being notable examples). In essence, certain ideological camps are convincing us that we need to curtail our own freedoms in excess of what the Constitution mandates. Only through litigation from the directly affected minority has this trend been held in check so far.

Posted by: Brian at November 8, 2003 11:56 PM

It's also noteable that the Supreme Court refused to hear the Bush administration's appeal in this case.

Posted by: Brian at November 9, 2003 12:02 AM