Have They Not Heard of Dr. Laura?

Sometimes it takes the judicial branch to prevent other branches of government from going off the rails.  The latest example involves a Kentucky case where a newspaper columnist was targeted by the state psychology board for providing parenting advice to readers.

The controversy began in 2013 when nationally syndicated columnist and psychologist John Rosemond was hit with a complaint filed with the Kentucky Board of Examiners of Psychology. The complaint alleged that Rosemond provided “unprofessional and unethical” advice in a column where he advised a family to take away their son’s electronic devices as a “wake-up call.” The complaint also took issue with Rosemond calling himself a psychologist in the column since he is not licensed in Kentucky. The board responded by attempting to block Rosemond from publishing his column within the state’s borders.

Rosemond, who is licensed in North Carolina, responded with a federal lawsuit based on alleged violations of his 1st Amendment right to free speech. Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky agreed with Rosemond and authored a blistering ruling that deemed the psychology board’s actions unconstitutional. In his ruling, the judge even borrowed a quote from Rosemond’s contested article:

“All he did was write a column providing parenting advice to an audience of newspaper subscribers. To permit the state to halt this lawful expression would result in a harm far more concrete and damaging to society than the speculative harm which the state purportedly seeks to avoid, and perhaps that is the 'wake up' call best drawn from the facts of this case,” the judge wrote.

Regulators sometimes lose the forest for the trees and go off on ill-advised tangents that serve mostly to waste taxpayer funds intended for more pertinent cases.  Judge Van Tatenhove correctly righted this wrong and stood up for free speech.  And that’s what courts are for.  

Posted: 11/4/2015 9:30:19 AM by TCLE Editor | with 0 comments

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Thanks for stopping by On the Merits, the first blog from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. On the Merits will take a close look at significant legal stories with an eye toward addressing the legal myths and misconceptions that turn up in news stories, movies, TV programs, websites, anonymous emails and other forms of mass communications. Our goal at On the Merits is to provide readers with a thoughtful examination of what the media and others are saying about the legal profession and to apply the frequently-absent context of how the legal system actually works.

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