State Tells Parenting Columnist To Stop Dispensing Advice

Now, Mr. Rosemond is getting a spanking of his own.

Kentucky officials say he violated state law by presenting himself as a psychologist and then giving parenting advice without a proper license. Mr. Rosemond is a licensed “psychological associate” in his home state of North Carolina, but not in Kentucky.

Kentucky says the tough-love advice he dispensed to a reader about dealing with a spoiled child amounted to the “unlawful practice of psychology” in the state.

In response, Mr. Rosemond filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway and members of the Kentucky Board of Examiners of Psychology, accusing them of violating his First Amendment rights to free speech.

In May, at the behest of the psychology board, the state attorney general’s office issued a cease-and-desist affidavit to Mr. Rosemond. The letter flagged a February 12 column that ran in the Lexington Herald-Leader and dozens of other papers. In the column, a couple sought advice on handling their “highly spoiled” underachieving teenage son. Mr. Rosemond replied that the kid was in “dire need of a major wake-up call” and urged the parents to take away his cell phone and and driving privileges. His columns identify him as a family psychologist.

The attorney general’s office stated the column amounted to a “psychological service” as defined by Kentucky law. As such, it stated, Mr. Rosemond needed to have a license to practice psychology in Kentucky.

The state said that to prevent legal action, he must agree to stop practicing psychology in Kentucky (in other words, stop writing columns like the spoiled brat one) and to stop referring to himself as a psychologist in the state.

“It’s an outrageous attempt to limit a citizen’s right to seek advice on issues of living from whomever they choose,” Mr. Rosemond told Law Blog. “I refuse to cooperate with their absurd demand.”

He said the same argument the state is making against him could be made against “a grandmother who gives her daughter parenting advice” or against the authors of “Dear Abby” and “Ann Landers.”

Eva Markham, the chairwoman of the psychology board, told Law Blog they wouldn’t have a problem with Mr. Roseland’s column if he stopped calling himself a psychologist. ”Our issue is the use of the title.”

The unlicensed practice of psychology and the unlawful use of the title psychologist are criminal offenses in Kentucky punishable by up to six months in jail and $ 500 in fines per offense, according to the Institute for Justice, a public-interest law firm representing Mr. Rosemond.

The board’s letter was triggered by a complaint from a Lexington clinical child psychologist who wrote to the board in February asking it to stop Mr. Rosemond from calling himself a psychologist, the Herald-Leader reported.

The editor of the Herald-Leader told the Associated Press that the paper intends to continue publishing the column and said he was troubled by the state board’s crackdown.

The Kentucky attorney general’s office told Law Blog that the cease-and-desist letter was drafted by a staff attorney acting as a general counsel to the psychology board and referred questions to the board. Law Blog reached out to the board for comment but did not immediately hear back.

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