Institute for Justice takes case of paleo blogger charged over giving people advice on what to eat

From Modern Paleo blog:

Can the government throw you in jail for offering advice on the Internet about what people should buy at the grocery store?

That is exactly the claim made by the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition. And that is why today diabetic blogger Steve Cooksey of Stanley, N.C. has teamed up with the Institute for Justice (IJ) to file a major First Amendment lawsuit against the State Board in federal court.

In December 2011, Steve Cooksey started a Dear Abby-style advice column on his blog to answer reader questions. In January 2012, the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition informed Steve that he could not give readers personal advice on diet, whether for free or for compensation, because doing so constituted the unlicensed, and thus criminal, practice of dietetics.

The State Board also told Steve that his private emails and telephone calls with friends and readers were illegal. The Board also ordered him to shut down his life-coaching service. Violating the North Carolina licensing law can lead to fines, court orders to be silent and even jail.

“You don’t need the government’s permission to give someone ordinary advice,” said IJ Senior Attorney Jeff Rowes. “North Carolina cannot require Steve to be a state-licensed dietitian any more than it can require Dear Abbey to be a state-licensed psychologist.”

This lawsuit seeks to answer one of the most important unresolved questions in First Amendment law: When does the government’s power to license occupations trump free speech?

“Advice is protected speech,” said IJ attorney Paul Sherman. “Just because the government can license certain types of expert professional advice doesn’t mean the government can license every type of advice.”

Steve Cooksey began offering dietary advice because he is concerned about America’s diabetes epidemic. Over 25 million Americans have diabetes, including approximately 800,000 in North Carolina. The human and financial toll is staggering. Diabetes is now a leading cause of stroke, blindness, kidney failure requiring transplantation, and amputation. Because diabetes is a condition of elevated blood sugar, Steve advocates eating foods that keep blood sugar low.

After being diagnosed with Type II diabetes, Steve did research and learned that the high-carb/low-fat diet his doctors recommended to him may not be best for diabetics because carbohydrates raise blood sugar. He adopted the low-carb “Paleolithic” diet of our Stone Age ancestors: fresh veggies, meats, eggs and fish, but no sugars, processed foods or agricultural starches.

Steve lost 78 pounds, freed himself of drugs and doctors, normalized his blood sugar and feels healthier than ever. He believes a low-carb diet is the simplest, cheapest and most effective way to treat diabetes. This goes against the conventional wisdom promoted by licensed dietitians, which advocate a high-carb diet and drugs to lower blood sugar.

“Diabetics need access to information from all points of view, including those that challenge the conventional wisdom,” said IJ client Steve Cooksey. “We cannot let government licensing boards censor the Internet and chill our speech.”

For more on today’s lawsuit, visit Founded in 1991, the Virginia-based Institute for Justice is a national public interest law firm that fights for free speech and economic liberty nationwide.

This case has huge implications for every advocate of paleo and other non-standard diets. Yet the principle is broader: every person has a right to express and advocate his own views, even when that person is not licensed by the state.

If you want to contribute to Steve’s fight against these government censors, please support the Institute for Justice by a donation!


Filed under News

7 responses to “Institute for Justice takes case of paleo blogger charged over giving people advice on what to eat

  1. There is something wrong with our system at a fundamental level, when flirt with going to jail, need $100,000, and years of time to establish your right to free speech.

    Instead of hacking at the branches as Thoreau put it, we need to strike the root and once and for ever (Hopefully and maybe naively.) address this issue.

    One thing that comes to mind would be severe criminal and civil penalties for anyone that blatantly violates the rights of another citizen. I am eager to see how Dave Champions “Constitution 2” address’s this issue. From what he has divulged of it – the guy is brilliant.

    The other thing that comes to mind is to get rid of government or severely restrict it. It is government that created this situation in the first place by creating a medical monopoly. If there were not for an un-Godly, un-Constituional monopoly on health care this issue would not have even arose.

    I think the following Robert LeFevre quotes are priceless:

    “Government is a disease masquerading as its own cure.”
    This describes this case to a T……

    “If men are good, you don’t need government; if men are evil or ambivalent, you don’t dare have one.”
    Can you argue with that logic? I can’t…..

    “An anarchist is anyone who believes in less government than you do.”

    “A limited government is a contradiction in terms.”

  2. I’m a big fan of the Institute for Justice, as are the other lawyers at the Canadian Constitution Foundation. They do excellent work.

    • Joan Sheppard

      Things are fundamentally unjust when the interests of individuals and their rights are dismissed in favour of the rights of government groups and
      government sounding groups that are promoting corporate gains for financial gain. Everyday our government legislates away more of our rights and leaves us with no recourse. Just to name a few such agencies,
      OSPCA,CFIA, MNR, the Conservation Authority and Endangered Species Act (individuals are the endangered species). We are left with little or no recourse, especially if we are not wealthy. Thanks for the work you do in Canada, Karen. We must all be diligent and know our rights or we won’t have any

      • Joan
        To begin with the “rights of the government” that you do not elaborate on could not be rights because only individuals can have rights.

        Secondly there is nothing wrong with an individual making a profit. Do not people have a right to earn a living? You communicate in the vocabulary of the globalist that want to destroy freedom in this country. Your words do not seem well thought out, or specific. Your words sound like meaningless rhetoric,

        The only time one should have an issue with someone making money is when they violate the rights of another to earn it. i.e, They commit fraud, or theft in the process of making that money. That is the ONLY issue here. Otherwise the making of money is a fantastic thing.

        Thirdly government can not legislate away your rights. They are still your rights no matter what government does or says. Government can and do trample, and violate your rights. However they can not take them away. Please do not confuse the 2, this is a very important point to keep in mind.

  3. Sib

    So… people are supposed to stay on the sickcare pharmaceutical bandwagon? How is that going to improve the nation’s health? In the long run it won’t.

    Dr. Weston A. Price’s advice (nutrient-dense, whole, unadulterated foods that make up various indigenous diets) would be far more beneficial to human health than government-corporate-pharma interference.

    Steve Cooksey appears to be cooking up a cure to Type II diabetes. And f diabetics start curing themselves that would put a damper on pharmaceutical sales. Now we can’t have that. Why next thing you know, people will be curing their own cancer!

    Defend that caveman! Let him speak!

  4. It’s not my kind of diet – but it works for others in different situations. Right on caveman! North Carolina has picked on others doing good work as well. We don’t need no stinkin’ bureaucrats controlling medicine, especially when the have revolving door use to Big Pharma or Big Ag.

  5. Pingback: The Dietetics Board Censors Diabetic Blogger « Aqua Black Cat

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s