Judge rejects restraining order against Ky. psychology board in John Rosemond case

raretakis@herald-leader.comJuly 18, 2013 

A federal judge declined Thursday to restrain Kentucky officials from taking action against parenting advice columnist John Rosemond, who filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday accusing the state of violating his First Amendment right to free speech.

The Kentucky Board of Examiners of Psychology has threatened legal action against Rosemond, alleging that his nationally syndicated column constitutes the illegal practice of psychology in Kentucky.

However, the psychology board took no action against Rosemond during a meeting Thursday afternoon. Instead, members voted to allow their attorney to negotiate with Rosemond, a nationally syndicated columnist known for advocating an anti-coddling approach to parenting.

Rosemond had sought a 10-day temporary restraining order so that he could continue writing his column without fear of penalties until a federal judge decided whether to grant a preliminary injunction against the psychology board.

In an order issued Thursday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove said no restraining order was necessary because Rosemond faces no immediate or irreparable harm. Van Tatenhove said he will schedule a hearing on whether to issue a preliminary injunction to stop the psychology board from prosecuting Rosemond.

"There may very well be important First Amendment issues presented by this case, but for purposes of the temporary restraining order request the issue that predominates is whether Mr. Rosemond will be subject to irreparable harm," Van Tatenhove wrote.

He noted that the Herald-Leader printed Rosemond's column on Tuesday and plans to do so again on July 22, so the psychology board's conclusion that Rosemond is illegally practicing psychology in the state has "had no practical affect on his First Amendment free speech right."

In addition, any action the psychology board might take against Rosemond would not result in immediate penalties or jail time, Van Tatenhove wrote.

Attorney General Jack Conway's office, which provides legal services for the psychology board, issued a cease-and-desist affidavit to Rosemond in May, threatening legal action if Rosemond refused to stop labeling himself a psychologist and engaging in "the practice of psychology" without a Kentucky license.

In the May 7 letter, Assistant Attorney General Brian T. Judy told Rosemond that a column published Feb. 12 in the Lexington Herald-Leader violated state law because "your response to a specific question from a parent about handling a teenager was a psychological service to the general public, which constituted the practice of psychology."

Rosemond, 65, is a licensed psychological associate in North Carolina, but does not have a Kentucky license. He is identified as a "family psychologist" at the end of his weekly columns.

In February, retired Lexington psychologist T. Kerby Neill wrote the psychology board, requesting that it stop Rosemond from presenting himself as a psychologist in Kentucky.

In a prepared statement read at Thursday's meeting, the psychology board said Rosemond's use of the title family psychologist "is false and misleading to the citizens of Kentucky."

"The board's action to request Rosemond to cease and desist from publishing articles where he holds himself out to be a psychologist in Kentucky newspapers is to protect Kentucky consumers from false and misleading statements that violate Kentucky law," the board said. "It is not designed to censor his opinions or advice."

Rachel Aretakis: (859) 231-3197. Twitter: @heraldleader

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