Florida ‘Docs vs Glocks’ case vacated and sent back for retrial

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday agreed to rehear a case challenging Florida’s law prohibiting health care workers from asking about their patient’s firearms.

The simple two-page ruling from the court vacated a long-standing and repeatedly defended ruling that the law did not trample the health care workers’ First Amendment rights.

In 2011, a Miami U.S. District Court, in Wollschlaeger v. Governor of the State of Florida– more popularly known as the “Docs vs. Glocks” case– blocked the Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act, signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott (R) after passage by the state legislature.

This sent the case to the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, which in July 2014 handed down a 2-1 ruling reversing the lower court after finding, “the Act is a valid regulation of professional conduct that has only incidental effect on physicians’ speech.”

In short, that health care workers could not ask questions about gun ownership of their patients.

Not satisfied with the decision, a group of physician lobby organizations represented by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence asked for a rarely granted en banc review by the full Circuit of the panel’s finding, which was denied in August 2014.

However, the 11th Circuit now has apparently had a change of heart and a majority of the 11 judges of the court have voted to rehear the case in front of the full court, effectively placing the law, which has been largely dormant for the past five years, back in a holding pattern.

Of the active Circuit Judges in the court, five are recent appointments by President Obama, three date to the Clinton administration, and just three were appointed during Republican presidencies.