Physicians’ Right to Free Speech Upheld in AAPS v. ABIM

TUSCON, Ariz., June 04, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A precedent-setting ruling in favor of the First Amendment was issued today by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. This influential Court established the right to object in court to censorship of physicians’ speech on topics ranging from government Covid policies to abortion, stated AAPS General Counsel Andrew Schlafly. 

The Court held that there is a constitutional “right to hear” that enables a sponsor of conferences, such as Plaintiff Association of American Physicians & Surgeons Educational Foundation (“AAPS”), to challenge censorship that chills presentations at its events. “This landmark ruling will be cited nationwide for decades to come,” Mr. Schlafly observed.

AAPS sued three medical specialty boards for their threatened actions against the board certifications of physicians because of speaking out on medical controversies. Physicians earned and need these board certifications in order to practice medicine in most hospitals and remain in most insurance networks, as Mr. Schlafly pointed out.

Defendants are the American Board of Internal Medicine (“ABIM”), the American Board of Family Medicine (“ABFM”), and the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology (“ABOG”). In addition, Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden’s Homeland Security Secretary, is a defendant due to alleged government interference with freedom of speech.

The Fifth Circuit also invalidated Galveston Local Rule 6, by which that federal district court has infringed on plaintiffs’ right to amend their lawsuits. The Fifth Circuit agreed with AAPS that this district court rule is contrary to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and thus must be voided.

“AAPS can now pursue its claim against censorship by the Biden Administration,” AAPS Executive Director Jane Orient, M.D., stated.

Fifth Circuit Judge James Ho agreed with the panel majority on the key issues and wrote separately to decry attempts by some to impose censorship on others. “In America, we don’t fear disagreement—we embrace it. We persuade—we don’t punish. We engage in conversation—not cancellation,” Judge Ho wrote.

“We know how to disagree with one another without destroying one another. Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work,” Judge Ho added as he sided fully with this lawsuit against censorship. 

“With this landmark ruling in favor of the First Amendment, our country can end improper censorship of viewpoints,” Andrew Schlafly stated.

Contact: Jane Orient, M.D., AAPS Executive Director, (520) 323-3110, or Andrew Schlafly, AAPS General Counsel, (908) 719-8608