Case Information: Wollschlaeger v. State of Florida, No. 12-14009 (11th Circuit en banc brief filed April 27, 2016).
At Issue: This case challenges Florida’s physician “gag rule,” which subjects doctors to discipline if they inquire into a patient’s gun ownership and storage, among other things. In 2012 the district court granted an injunction to prevent the law from going into effect, finding that the gag rule violated doctors’ First Amendment rights. Although a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed, the full court subsequently voted to vacate the panel’s opinion and rehear the case en banc.
The Law Center’s Brief: Our brief, the second we have filed in this case, argues that in addition to violating the First Amendment rights of doctors, Florida’s gag rule violates patients’ First Amendment right to receive lifesaving information from their doctors without government interference. The law deprives patients of evidence-based information concerning the risks of gun ownership and unsafe gun storage, exposing them to harm that could otherwise be avoided. We explain that patients’ right to receive accurate, complete information from their doctors about guns is especially critical in light of the strong empirical links between gun ownership and gun injury or death.