Ima Fish alerts us to yet another bizarre state law against free speech. John Gibson, a lawyer from Lubbock, Texas, who is an expert in workers' compensation, is suing the state
after it sent him a cease and desist letter for having a blog at TexasWorkersCompLaw.com
. It turns out that Texas has a law on the books
that forbids workers' comp lawyers from saying they're from Texas. Basically, the law forbids the use of "workers comp" and "Texas" together. Gibson, reasonably, finds the whole thing absolutely ridiculous:
Gibson says the words are not the intellectual property of the state, but are in the public domain, that no governmental interest is served by regulating them, and that forbidding their use is an impermissible restraint on free speech.
"For instance, under the terms of the regulation, a physician or medical clinic would be prohibited from advertising that they accept workers' compensation patients in Texas. Any attorney who was board certified would also be strictly prohibited from using the phrase 'Board Certified in Workers' Compensation Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization,' which is the accepted manner and form for disclosing Board Certification in Texas," the complaint states. "These and other unnecessary restrictions on advertising are the result of § 419.002, without serving any governmental interest."
We've seen similar -- if somewhat less egregious -- attempts by states to regulate lawyers' speech, usually under rules designed to limit how lawyers can advertise their services. A few years ago, there were issues about the legality of some law blogs in NY
, due to overly restrictive laws. But this particular rule concerning workers' comp attorneys goes way beyond that. It really just seems to be designed as an attack on workers' comp lawyers. It makes you wonder just who was behind getting it passed in the first place.