Wollschlaeger v. Governor of Florida

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In Wollschlaeger v. Governor of Florida, 848 F.3d 1293 (11th Cir. 2017) (en banc), the Eleventh Circuit held en banc in favor of a pre-enforcement lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of Florida's Firearms Owners' Privacy Act ("FOPA") that prohibited physicians from asking their patients whether they own any firearms. Specifically, the Court held that "[T]he record-keeping, inquiry, and anti-harassment provisions of FOPA violate the First Amendment, but the anti-discrimination provision, as construed, does not. Id. at 1319.[1]

The Court found ripeness based on an alleged significant hardship in how the statute was a direct restriction on speech some physicians might consider to be necessary to assess patients' potential health and safety risks. Id. at 1307. The physicians supposedly had to forgo their constitutionally protected speech in order to avoid disciplinary charges against them, and thus they had legal standing to challenge the statute.

One Judge Gerard Tjoflat dissented. Judge William Pryor, once considered a candidate for nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, joined the anti-Second Amendment majority opinion.

References

  1. The anti-discrimination provision that was upheld merely stated that:
    (5) A health care practitioner licensed under chapter 456 or a health care facility licensed under chapter 395 may not discriminate against a patient based solely upon the patient’s exercise of the constitutional right to own and possess firearms or ammunition.