Occupational Licensing

Judge Rules Florida Can Require a License To Give Out Diet Tips

No diploma, no making money telling people how to eat better.

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Want to make money giving out diet tips? In Florida, you'll have to get a bachelor's degree and a state license to tell people how to eat better. A federal judge has upheld the Sunshine State's occupational licensing program that censors diet coaching by those who are not officially deemed dieticians.

The case, brought by the liberty-loving and oppressive-occupational-license-fighting lawyers of the Institute for Justice, revolved around the work of Heather Kokesch Del Castillo of Fort Walton Beach. Del Castillo was applying her training from an unaccredited online holistic health program, offering six-month coaching programs to clients for pay. But she is not a licensed dietician in Florida, and when the state found out about her work, they accused Del Castillo of practicing dietetics without a license and threatened her with hundreds of dollars in fines if she didn't stop.

With the help of the Institute for Justice, Del Castillo fought back, arguing in court that this licensing demand violated her First Amendment rights to free speech. Unfortunately for her, Judge M. Casey Rogers of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida disagreed and tossed her case. Rogers concluded that current court precedents have determined that it's not an unconstitutional abridgment of free speech rights to require an occupational license to earn a living talking about certain issues, "so long as any inhibition of that right is merely the incidental effect of observing an otherwise legitimate regulation."

Rogers turned to a court ruling from Locke v. Shore, another case from Florida from 2011 in which a federal court ruled that it's legal for the state to require that interior designers get licensed to legally practice their craft.

Lawyers from the Institute for Justice argued that subsequent court rulings have weakened Locke, particularly a Supreme Court ruling from 2018, NIFLA v. Becerra, that addressed whether California could require pregnancy centers to carry notices indicating whether or not they were licensed and, if they were licensed, requiring the centers to post notices informing women of the availability of free or low-cost services, including abortions. The Supreme Court ruled that these speech demands were unconstitutional. In the writing of the majority opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas noted, "Speech is not unprotected merely because it is uttered by 'professionals.' This Court has 'been reluctant to mark off new categories of speech for diminished constitutional protection.'"

Rodgers didn't find that argument applicable here. Florida wasn't telling Del Castillo what she could or could not say or what she must or must not say. She could give all sorts of nutrition advice out for free. But in order to earn a living giving advice, she needed to get a license, and Florida made the case that there are valid public health reasons for having such a law. Rodgers wrote, "Notably, it is, at the very least, reasonably conceivable that the unlicensed practice of dietetics could lead to improper dietary advice from unqualified individuals, which in turn could harm the public."

The combination of rulings creates a bit of an odd outcome. Florida can require that Del Castillo get the appropriate degree and pay the appropriate licensing fees in order to legally give out nutritional advice, but it's not clear that they could tell her what kind of nutritional advice she could give. There might be no difference between the advice she gives now and the advice she might give with a degree and an occupational license. A diploma and a license won't actually prevent Del Castillo from giving out "improper dietary advice." Heaven knows the government itself often gets nutritional advice completely wrong.

Lawyers from the Institute for Justice expressed dismay at yesterday's ruling and promised to appeal.

"The court held that talking with a person about their diet isn't speech, it's the 'conduct' of practicing dietetics," said I.J. Attorney Ari Bargil. "The Supreme Court has squarely rejected that sort of labeling game. Giving advice on what an adult should buy at the grocery store is speech, and the First Amendment protects it."

Read the full ruling here. Read more about efforts to try to censor "unlicensed" public health and nutrition advice here.

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  1. Eat this, shiteater!

  2. “Notably, it is, at the very least, reasonably conceivable that the unlicensed practice of dietetics could lead to improper dietary advice from unqualified individuals, which in turn could harm the public.”

    You could say the same thing about most anything, and yet they’re still not requiring training and competency tests and licensing for voting in Florida and there’s a hell of a lot more evidence of unqualified individuals harming the public by voting than by dispensing dietary advice.

    1. “”and yet they’re still not requiring training and competency tests and licensing for voting in Florida and there’s a hell of a lot more evidence of unqualified individuals harming the public by voting than by dispensing dietary advice.””

      As former Chief Justice Rehnquist noted in his opinion of Bush v Gore.

  3. “”A federal judge has upheld the Sunshine State’s occupational licensing program that censors diet coaching by those who are not officially deemed dieticians”‘

    Does this apply to non-dieticians like MDs, and NPs?

  4. Judge Casey didnt’ go far enough.
    He should also rule the State of Florida has the right to issue permits for exhaling and inhaling.
    Otherwise there will be way too much breathing by non-qualified people in the Sunshine State, and we all know what that leads to!

    1. Bad breath?
      Climate change?
      Hitler?

      1. Worse than all of those together; democrats.

        While I can support inhaling permits for all, with common sense controls like training and background checks and fees, exhaling permits should be denied all who subscribe to the global climate warming change theories. Letting them exhale would create more carbon dioxide, and the state should help them follow the logical consequences of their sincere beliefs.

  5. >>>”Notably, it is, at the very least, reasonably conceivable that the unlicensed practice of dietetics could lead to improper dietary advice from unqualified individuals, which in turn could harm the public.”

    whatever clerk wrote this should be beaten w/keyboard. puke.

  6. And what are the occupational licensing requirements to be a bureaucrat in Florida? Whatever they are they clearly need to be much higher and should require at least 65 continuing education credits per quarter and not paid for by the employing body. Any bureaucrat not maintaining those educational requirements should be fined at least $1,000 per day. It is a matter of public safety after all.

  7. “Notably, it is, at the very least, reasonably conceivable that the unlicensed practice of dietetics could lead to improper dietary advice from unqualified individuals, which in turn could harm the public.”

    Case in point – Federal bureaucrats that are responsible for the ever-changing food pyramid.

    1. A very good case can be made that the obesity ‘epidemic’ (has anyone ever caught obesity from someone else?) is a result of the feds battle with “fat as the dietary enemy”. Look at the labels of most low fat products compared to their regular counterparts, and you will find less fat but many more carbs. The manufacturers added sugar to replace the flavor lost in removing the fat.
      How can you trust the feds advice when they openly state it will be changed in five years? That must mean it is wrong now.

  8. Florida, the once wonderful state that tells a daily that selling milk from which the cream has been skimmed, if said milk is labeled as “skim milk”, is illegal, and false labeling.

    The order from the state – –
    “Either stop selling your pasteurized skim milk immediately or stop calling it pasteurized skim milk.”

    It took five years and a federal court to get the madness stopped.

    1. Did they win? I thought they lost, and couldn’t call it skim milk unless they added in vitamins.

  9. So in what other medical professions should people be able to give “tips” without education or a license? NP’s and nurses? Pharmacists? If I want to call myself a doctor and give people medical tips on youtube should I be allowed to do so? You’re infringing on my first amendment rights if you don’t let me do it.

    1. I saw no mention of her claiming a degree or title she did not earn, as you would be if you use the title Doctor. Your first amendment rights do not include credential fraud.

      1. Well, “doctor” is just a title that anyone can give themselves. Now, if you claimed to have a medical degree that you didn’t have, then you’d be committing fraud.

        1. How dare you demean Doctor J. He was a surgeon on court.

      2. So she didn’t explicitly claim she knew her ass from third base about the science of nutrition, she just let the viewer assume it.

        You sorta dodged my main point.

        1. If I want to call myself a doctor and give people medical tips on youtube should I be allowed to do so?

          It’s up to Youtube, but yes.

          1. And if I kill a bunch of stupid people who I fooled into thinking that I knew what I was talking about, well, that’s just Darwinism at work, right?

            1. You didn’t kill anyone.

              1. If I want to call myself a doctor and tell kids eating Tide pods is cool, am I liable if they do it?

                1. Nope. Just like if you told your boyfriend he should kill himself and he does, you are not liable for his actions. Or, if you told people they should vote for Hillary and they do, then she gets into office and starts a war that kills 10 million people, you are not liable for the actions of those voters.

                  Now, maybe there’s a gray area around inciting a violent mob or something, but would you burn down a building because you were in a crowd and someone at the front of the crowd said that you should do it?

                  1. “Just like if you told your boyfriend he should kill himself and he does, you are not liable for his actions.”

                    MIchelle Carter is crossing her fingers that you’re an appeals judge in Massachusetts.

    2. You should be able to give medical advice on YouTube and anywhere else. Not only does it constantly happen, it’s actually crucially important, as part of patient self-support groups, for example.

      Frankly, Bevis, your views are not just appallingly ignorant, they are appallingly authoritarian. I think you’re reprehensible.

  10. It’s all spelled out in the law in plain English.

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion unless unless the government wants to own a religious monument or put up some religious icons in a courthouse or something, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof unless they’re in the wedding cake business or something like that, obviously, or have silly religious objections to providing birth control as an employment benefit; or abridging the freedom of speech, unless the speech is involved in any kind of monetary exchange in any way whatsoever or if it really hurts someone’s feelings, but not everyone, just what some people might call an oppressed group, or of the press, except for the release of classified government documents given to them by a whistleblower when those documents make the government look bad or the leaker is not a well-connected part of the estrablishment; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, if you have a permit and a massive insurance policy of course, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Supreme law of the land, people. Might wanna look it up.

  11. Now unilaterally drop tariffs so we can have free trade!

  12. Notably, it is, at the very least, reasonably conceivable that the unlicensed practice of dietetics could lead to improper dietary advice from unqualified individuals, which in turn could harm the public.

    Notably, it is, at the very least, reasonably conceivable that the unlicensed practice of politics/economics could lead to improper policy/economic decisions from unqualified individuals, which in turn could harm the public.

    Evidently, we need occupational licensing for politicians.

  13. […] Judge Rules Florida Can Require a License To Give Out Diet Tips  Reason […]

  14. Much better to have the bad nutritional advice that was handed out by the government for decades and only fairly recently changed. What’s to know? Moderation and a variety of foods. Less processed fats and sugars, more fruit, vegetables, fiber, lean protein. I’ll probably get fined for not having a license to post this suggestion.

  15. […] requires a bachelor’s degree and a license to charge for diet advice, writes Scott Shackford on Reason. “A federal judge has upheld the Sunshine State’s […]

  16. Sorry for being so late. Essentially what’s needed is a gatekeeper. The consumer pays the gatekeeper for access to advice and the gatekeeper in turn hires the provider to supply advice for free to the consumer. Problem solved.

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