‘Dream Team’ NBA icon sues Washington AG, medical commission over doctors’ free speech: It’s ‘a big deal’

NBA legend John Stockton is suing the Washington State Office of the Attorney General and Washington Medical Commission Executive Director Kyle S. Karinen for allegedly stifling the free speech of doctors who dared to deviate from “the mainstream Covid narrative.”

Stockton joined “several doctors who have faced state sanctions” in the lawsuit, which was filed on Thursday, The Spokesman-Review reports.

The former Olympic “Dream Team” player, accompanied by one of his attorneys, Rick Jaffe, joined “Fox & Friends First” to discuss the First Amendment implications of the case and the ultimate goal of bringing it.

“I think it’s pretty simple,” Stockton told Todd Piro. “It’s freedom. Even though we talk about medical freedom and things, it’s freedom and freedom to speak. It’s our First Amendment.”


(Video: Fox News)

According to the longtime Utah Jazz point guard, what’s at stake is “a big deal.”

“It’s really important… to our government and the lives that we’ve come to love in the United States of America,” Stockton said. “So if the doctors can’t speak… these brilliant people that we have in our culture, can’t speak when they know truths, their truths, and now we’re deprived of that opportunity to hear… the… wisdom they have to share, I think that’s a big deal.”

“The only thing we’re interested in is the First Amendment issue,” Jaffe told The Spokesman-Review. “Does the medical board have the constitutional authority to investigate, prosecute and sanction doctors for writing articles, posting blogs on websites and speaking out in public, even if the government or the medical board thinks what they’re saying is wrong or dangerous?”

Stockton has long criticized COVID-19 restrictions. In 2022, he “got his Gonzaga season tickets suspended over the school’s mask mandate,” Fox News notes.

He and “the other plaintiffs in the suit are represented by Todd S. Richardson and presidential candidate and attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the son of former U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and the nephew of former President John F. Kennedy,” The Spokesman-Review reports, adding: “The younger Kennedy is known for his controversial anti-vaccine views.”

One of those plaintiffs is Dr. Richard Eggleston, a retired ophthalmologist who allegedly faced sanctions after a reader reported what he wrote in a piece that ran in the Lewiston Tribune.

Following the Federation of State Medical Boards’ guidance, Washington indicated in 2021 that it would sanction doctors who spread COVID-19 misinformation, according to Jaffe.

In its official statement, Washington Medical Commission (WMC) Secretary of Health Umair A. Shah said, “It has never been more vital for trusted healthcare professionals to band together against the threat of misinformation.”

“As we battle COVID-19, with so many tools at our disposal to protect ourselves and others, it is viral misinformation, rooted in unfounded scientific claims, that often stands in our way,” Shah continued. “It is our ethical duty to listen to our patients concerns, course-correct when people fall prey to falsehoods, and help them make informed medical decisions that are guided by research and medical science.

“Now more than ever we must align with the oath we took to ‘do no harm,’ and part of that means trusting science, listening, educating and caring for our patients according to the guidelines set by the FDA, the CDC, and experts at the state health department as we work to care for and protect the people we treat.”

“The Washington Medical Commission, I think, is an outlier in most states,” Jaffe told Fox News. “They’re taking the position that speaking out against the COVID narrative is an act of moral turpitude, which they’re saying gives them the statutory authority to sanction physicians.”

“To me, that’s kind of crazy… We have a history of at least going back 75 years, allowing professionals to speak out in public,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any court case that’s ever held that a professional can be silenced.”

“In terms of his speech to the public… that’s kind of a new concept,” Jaffe stated. “Hopefully that’s not going to work, but nobody has challenged Washington yet so far on this, and we intend to do that.”

According to The Spokesman-Review: “The suit asks for a declaration that the state’s policy violates the First Amendment, a preliminary and permanent injunction on the policy and a declaration that the state’s position ‘violates the substantive procedural due process rights of Washington licensed physicians,’ as well as attorneys’ fees and ‘other such further relief as the Court deems just and proper.'”

 

Melissa Fine

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