Judge Blocks Kentucky's Absurd Attempt to Censor 'Unlicensed' Advice Columnist

No, you don't have to have the state's approval to tell families how to solve problems.


John Rosemond
Courtesy of Institute for Justice

Hey, look, it's yet another victory for the Institute for Justice. They stepped in when the Kentucky Board of Examiners of Psychology said nationally syndicated advice columnist John Rosemond's writings constituted the unlicensed practice of psychology in their state. They also said he could not identify himself as a "family psychologist," even though he is, because he's not licensed in Kentucky.

This is all utterly absurd violation of Rosemond's First Amendment rights, and we took note of it back in 2013 when the cease-and-desist order first reared its misbegotten head. A federal judge this week found it equally absurd, stating in the simplest, clearest of terms that Rosemond's advice column is protected speech and Kentucky cannot force him to stop:

Now, in an exercise of regulatory zeal, the Kentucky Board of Examiners of Psychology seeks to prohibit Rosemond from publishing his column in Kentucky while referring to himself as a "family psychologist." In an effort to avoid the State's enforcement of K.R.S. § 319.005, the State's statute regulating the practice of psychology, Rosemond protectively filed this action in which he asks that the Board be permanently enjoined from interfering with the publication of his column. Resolution of the case requires balancing the State's interest in regulating the practice of psychology with constitutional protections of speech. As Rosemond's speech deserves the highest level of constitutional protection, and because the State has failed to articulate compelling reasons for regulating that speech, the Board will be enjoined from further interfering with the publication of Rosemond's column.

Through the Institute of Justice, Rosemond responded:

Rosemond said, "If the government could censor a nationally syndicated columnist like me, there would be no limit on the sources of parenting advice it could outlaw. Thankfully, this ruling ensures that parents have the right to decide for themselves where they want to get parenting advice."

The Institute for Justice further noted that another case where the government uses occupational licensing to attempt to control speech may be heading to the Supreme Court. The State of Texas prohibits veterinarians from giving medical advice over the Internet about specific animals unless the veterinarian has first physically examined the animal. The 5th Circuit upheld the law (determining it regulates conduct, not speech), and the Institute for Justice is hoping the Supreme Court will take the case.