- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 21, 2002

The Supreme Court has wisely decided not to intervene in a freedom of speech case involving the state of Florida and dentists who want to advertise their specialties. We all realize that these interpreters of the Constitution decided long ago that freedom of speech meant freedom of some speech. In Florida, doctors, lawyers and dentists and other professionals are limited in how far they can go in advertising their services. Do you suppose the court feels these people might tend to be deceptive?

I have long maintained that lawyers should be free to post their win-loss record. No one wants an attorney who loses 90 percent of his cases. Allowing an attorney to advertise his successes would seem to be in the best interest of the public. As it is now, all we get are advertisements asking us if we have been injured due to someone else's negligence rather than our own stupidity. Allowing attorneys freedom to advertise their records would result in attorney wars much like the burger and cola wars that have given us so much pleasure.

The case that the Supremes turned down was brought by a dentist who completed 400 hours of study to perform implants. The trouble was that his accreditation was from an association not recognized by the Florida Dental Board. Any ad run by the dentist must state that fact. This is known as dental politics, in that over 2,000 dentists belong to the organization issuing the certification. Does there appear to be a little suppression of speech here, or am I being too picky?

We encounter suppression of speech every day. Think about all of the legal products that have advertising restrictions placed upon them cigarettes, liquor and firearms, just to name a few. At the same time we suppress the advertising of these products, we give the OK to virtual pornography on the Internet. I would imagine that the framers of the Constitution who smoked, drank alcohol and carried firearms might wonder how our most learned judges came to that conclusion.

The First Amendment even prohibits the abridging of freedom of speech. I suppose it all depends on how you define "abridging." One of the definitions found in the dictionary concerning the word "abridge" is "to curtail." This would seem to be in direct opposition to the position the courts have taken on freedom of speech issues. Limiting what lawyers, doctors and professionals can advertise is curtailment. We have laws to pursue those who run false advertisements.

We tell our children that the Constitution is a sacred document not to be tampered with. Yet we have one court after another interpreting it and making 5-to-4 decisions changing it. There have been 27 amendments added over the years, and that number can climb at any time. It would seem that any significant change to the Constitution should require a unanimous 9-0 vote by the Supreme Court. You just can't be comfortable living with 5-to-4 decisions. Maybe we should add another amendment requiring a 6-to-3 vote before anything is made into law.

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