Florida asks Supreme Court to dismiss free speech case for health coach

Florida asks Supreme Court to dismiss free speech case for health coach

The Florida Department of Health this week urged the US Supreme Court to dismiss a First Amendment challenge to a law that prohibits women from providing nutritional advice to clients in health and nutrition training.

Heather Kokesch Del Castillo was cited by the Department of Health in 2017 for getting paid to give nutritional advice without being a registered dietitian or dietitian after moving to Northwest Florida.

She alleged that the state violated her rights to expression. After losing to the Federal District Court and the Eleventh Court of Appeals in the United States, in August del Castillo filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to consider the case.

But in a 20-page response Monday, attorneys at the Attorney General’s Office Ashley Moodys cited legal precedent that a state “may lawfully regulate speech as an incident to regulate conduct, including professional conduct..”

“The petitioner’s position, if admitted, would have far-reaching consequences. The petitioner seems to concede that any professional licensing scheme is subject to challenge by unlicensed persons, armed with greater scrutiny under the First Amendment, if any part of the This scheme “restricts speech” to those unauthorized persons. “That would cast doubt on the constitutionality of long-running licensing schemes that were never thought to be a general problem of the First Amendment, such as the requirements for lawyers, physicians, and architects to obtain a license before they could retain themselves, and advise, as professionals.”

However, del Castillo’s lawyers said in the petition in August that the state’s restrictions were “full of loopholes and exceptions.”

Lawyers from the Institute for Justice, a national legal group, wrote, “Heather’s advice would have been perfectly legal, for example, if she had been selling nutritional supplements rather than just selling advice and encouragement.” In other words, taking five dollars as compensation for telling someone that ‘eating less carbs will help you lose weight’ is a crime, but telling the same person ‘you can lose weight if you eat less carbs and you give me five bucks for this miracle pill’. Completely legal.”

The petition said del Castillo provided nutritional advice while operating her business, Constitution Nutrition, in California. After her husband, a USAF pilot, was transferred to Florida, she planned to continue working.

The petition said a licensed dietitian complained to the Ministry of Health after seeing an advertisement in a magazine. The administration ordered del Castillo to stop providing nutritional advice and pay $754 in fines and fees, prompting the lawsuit.

In the petition to the Supreme Court, Del Castillo’s attorneys argued that the February ruling by the US Court of Appeals No. 11 conflicts with decisions of appellate courts in other parts of the country about how the First Amendment applies to licensing laws.

“In Florida, First Amendment Heather has no right to communicate with her clients,” the petition read. “If she goes home in California, it will be different. If you go north to the Carolinas, it will be different. If you go west to Mississippi, it will be different. In a state that has communication services, including guidance and counseling, that are increasingly being provided through lines state, pre-patching on a basic question like “Does the First Amendment even apply?” calls for the intervention of this (Supreme) Court.”

But in response this week, Health Department attorneys disputed that the Eleventh Circuit’s decision conflicts with other court rulings, saying it “is in line with decisions of other circuits, which agree that the correct test for whether a licensing scheme complies with the First Amendment is whether it represents A regulation of speech is an accident of regulating behaviour.

The country also referred to a change made by the legislature in 2020 that narrowed the law regulating food and nutrition advice. The change did not make the lawsuit moot, but it did allow unauthorized persons to advise clients who are not “under the supervision of a physician due to an illness or medical condition that requires nutritional intervention.”

“The statutory scheme focuses narrowly on the type of professional conduct that has direct medical implications – such as the Florida scheme for licensing physicians or other healthcare professionals,” the response read.

Copyright 2022 Health News Florida


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