Do You Use Your Blog to Give Individual Advice?

If you do, the state can shut you down:

A moment’s reflection reveals that restrictions on advice are all around us, commonly in the form of occupational-licensing laws.  And as government has grown, so too has the amount of advice that it seeks to regulate.  In North Carolina, a state dietitian board ordered a blogger to stop giving advice on the low-carb “Paleo” diet because he is not a licensed dietitian.  In Texas, the veterinary board ordered a licensed veterinarian to stop giving pet-care advice to people in foreign countries, who often had no other access to veterinary care.  And in Kentucky, the state psychology licensing board ordered a syndicated newspaper columnist to stop giving parenting advice in his Dear Abby-style column.

All of these examples, of course, constitute outrageous instances of the nanny state working to curb individual–and in many cases, economic–liberties. And if one reads the article, one sees quite plainly that the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence plainly and expressly rejects the notion that giving advice–whether that advice is given for money, implicates a professional-client relationship, or implicates professional conduct–is not protected by the First Amendment. Quite the contrary; the Court has repeatedly ruled that First Amendment protections apply in these instances. Unfortunately, lower courts are rejecting the Supreme Court’s lead.

It’s nice to see that the Institute for Justice is working to change this state of affairs at the lower court level. Let us hope that they succeed. The marketplace of ideas thrives when more ideas and more speech get thrown into the mix, and it would be a travesty if that marketplace were to be curbed in direct defiance of the First Amendment.

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