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Wollschlaeger v. Governor, State of Florida

848 F.3d 1293 (2017)

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Wollschlaeger v. Governor, State of Florida

United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

848 F.3d 1293 (2017)

Facts

The American Medical Association encouraged physicians to ask their patients whether there were firearms in the patients’ homes in order to educate their patients about childproofing their homes. The Florida legislature relied on purely anecdotal evidence as the basis for enacting the Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act (FOPA) to restrict the way that doctors and medical professionals talked to their patients about firearm ownership. FOPA provisions prohibited doctors and medical professionals from (1) asking their patients about whether they owned firearms if this information was irrelevant to safety issues, (2) recording their patients’ responses to these questions, (3) discriminating against their patients who owned firearms, and (4) harassing their patients about owning firearms. Florida medical organizations and physicians (medical professionals) (plaintiffs) filed an action against the governor and other state officials (state officials) (defendants), claiming that FOPA’s inquiry, record-keeping, antidiscrimination, and antiharassment provisions were unconstitutional. The district court ruled that these FOPA provisions were content-based restrictions that violated the medical professionals’ free-speech rights under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, as applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. The district court permanently enjoined the enforcement of these FOPA provisions. The state officials appealed. A divided panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit upheld the challenged FOPA provisions, using different judicial-review standards. All of the appeals court judges reheard the case.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Jordan, J.)

Concurrence (Wilson, J.)

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