Judge throws out John Stockton’s COVID-19 lawsuit

Stockton’s suit claimed disciplining doctors who spread disinformation about the virus was a First Amendment violation.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Lauri Markkanen (23) chats with former Jazz point guard John Stockton and Jazz assistant coach Jason Terry, during the 2023 NBA All-Star Game at Vivint Area, on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2023.

Utah Jazz Hall of Famer John Stockton’s fight against “the mainstream COVID narrative” might continue, but his federal lawsuit has been thrown out.

Stockton filed suit against the Washington attorney general and the executive director of the Washington Medical Commission in March, claiming the state’s decision to discipline doctors who spread COVID-19 misinformation was unconstitutional. Stockton had claimed he had been harmed because he could not ”hear the public soapbox speech of Washington licensed physicians who disagree with the mainstream Covid narrative.”

But last week, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Rice dismissed Stockton’s suit, saying “the commission’s regulation of medical professionals does not violate the First Amendment.”

The judge also said that the suit had been brought prematurely because the medical commission’s review of some of the doctors in question had not yet been completed.

Stockton was the lead plaintiff in the suit, along with two retired doctors who were sanctioned in the state. The Children’s Health Defense nonprofit helmed by presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy was also a plaintiff; Kennedy was listed as one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers.

The suit alleged that the doctors in question — two of approximately 60 physicians the Washington Medical Commission has “investigated, prosecuted, and/or sanctioned,” the suit said — were harmed by the decision of the commission to charge them with professional misconduct, in that they were no longer able to post opinion columns spreading the misinformation for the Lewiston Tribune and the AmericanThinker.com website.

Known during his Jazz career as a relatively quiet voice, Stockton has been outspoken on various public issues since the beginning of the COVID pandemic. In 2021, Stockton spoke on an anti-vaccine video series, he was also suspended from going to Gonzaga basketball games for refusing to wear a mask. Later, in 2022, he wrote a letter to a federal judge in support of a Kaysville woman who pleaded guilty to a minor role in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

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