Dr. Meryl Nass, an Ellsworth physician and critic of government medical policies during the COVID-19 pandemic, is suing the Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine and its members, alleging that they retaliated against her for engaging in her First Amendment right to free speech.

In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court Wednesday, Nass said the board of licensure used a vague “position statement” as the basis for suspending her license to practice medicine. That position statement said licensees could face disciplinary action if they “generate and spread COVID-19 vaccine misinformation or disinformation.” The lawsuit alleges that even questioning the COVID-19 vaccine constituted spreading misinformation.

According to court records, Nass received her license to practice medicine in Maine in 1997 and has had no past disciplinary findings against her Maine license.

In the 1990s, she worked on the anthrax vaccine, biological warfare and Gulf War Syndrome, and testified before Congress multiple times, according to the complaint, and was frequently quoted by major media outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post. L.A. Times and Chicago Tribune.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the complaint states, she questioned the government’s handling of the pandemic, the efficacy of mask mandates, the sidelining of effective alternative treatments like ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, and the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. Excerpts of statements included in the lawsuit ranged from concern that useful treatments are being vilified to speculation that the government-sponsored vaccination program was intended “for increased control and surveillance.”

“In short, Dr. Nass spoke on the same topics that the Position Statement encourages physicians to address, but was expressing viewpoints that the [board of licensure] disfavored,” the complaint states.

Based on Nass’s public statements, questions around her prescription of hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin to three patients and alleged misinformation provided to a pharmacist about the medicines, the board required Nass to undergo a mental examination and ultimately suspended her license.

In her lawsuit, Nass claims the board infringed on her First Amendment right to free speech, using the statute “as an instrument to crush dissenting views and chill disfavored speech.”

Further she says the Position Statement is unconstitutionally vague because it doesn’t clearly define what constitutes “misinformation or disinformation,” which encouraged the board “to engage in arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement practices.”

Nass is seeking unspecified damages and asking the court to declare state statute defining the board of licensure’s disciplinary sanctions in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution. Additionally, she is asking the court to require the board to retract its position statement.

Ethan Andrews is the night editor. He was formerly the managing editor at The Free Press and worked as a reporter for The Republican Journal and Pen Bay Pilot.