Writing for the majority, Judge Gerald Bard Tjoflat, appointed to the court by President Nixon, said the law takes into account a patient's "relative powerlessness" in a physician's examining room, and "simply acknowledges that the practice of good medicine does not require interrogation about irrelevant, private matters."
"As such, we find that the Act is a legitimate regulation of professional conduct. The Act simply codifies that good medical care does not require inquiry or record—keeping regarding firearms when unnecessary to a patient's care," Tjoflat wrote. "Any burden the Act places on physician speech is thus entirely incidental."
In dissent, Judge Charles R. Wilson, appointed to the court by President Clinton, said gun violence is a serious public health issue and that the Florida law "significantly infringes" upon a physician's legitimate reasons to raise gun safety concerns with patients.
"Simply put, the Act is a gag order that prevents doctors from even asking the first question in a conversation about firearms," Wilson wrote. "The Act prohibits or significantly chills doctors from expressing their views and providing information to patients about one topic and one topic only, firearms."
"Regardless of whether we agree with the message conveyed by doctors to patients about firearms, I think it is perfectly clear that doctors have a First Amendment right to convey that message."