After being hit with two lawsuits last week (over drug testing of state employees and muzzling doctors on the issue of guns,) Florida Gov. Rick Scott will stick Florida taxpayers with yet another legal bill.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is suing over the law Scott signed last week barring doctors from discussing firearms with their patients. From the Palm Beach Post:
TALLAHASSEE — The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and a well-heeled coalition of Florida doctors filed a federal lawsuit to block a law Gov. Rick Scott signed last week that restricts physicians’ ability to ask patients about guns in their homes.
The bill (HB 155) requires that doctors, emergency medical personnel and other health-care providers refrain from asking about gun ownership unless they “in good faith [believe] that this information is relevant to the patient’s medical care or safety, or the safety of others.” In addition, they could not enter the response into a database.
The bill passed after lobbyists for gun-rights groups and the Florida Medical Association cut a deal that removed the original bill’s jail time for doctors and weakened other restrictions. But other physician groups — most noteably, pediatricians — were left out of the deal.
The court challenge is the third launched against Scott and Republican state legislators in the last week, and was filed in federal court in Miami, the groups said Monday in a press release.
Attorneys with the Brady Center and the law firms of Ropes & Gray and Astigarraga Davis sued on behalf of individual doctors as well as the Florida chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American College of Physicians.
“This gun lobby-backed gag law is a clear violation of the First Amendment rights of doctors and patients to discuss the severe risks posed by guns in the home, particularly to children,” said Brady Center President Paul Helmke in the release.
“Given that Florida has some of the highest violent crimes rates in the nation, some of the weakest gun laws, and a gun death rate higher than the national average, Gov. Rick Scott and the legislators cowered by the gun lobby should know better than to support any measure that makes Floridians more vulnerable to guns.”
The Post also has the press release. Ropes and Gray had called for a veto of the legislation, and they’ve now moved forward with their suit on First Amendment grounds, on behalf of the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Family Physicians, the Florida Chapter of the American College of Physicians and their members.
At this rate, Florida taxpayers are going to spend more money defending lawsuits against the governor, plus fighting a constitutionally dubious battle against federal healthcare reform and reimbursing state employees and public assistance recipients for drug tests, than we’ll spend on things like, oh, education.
Well done, governor.