John Rosemond has been dispensing parenting advice in his newspaper column since 1976, making him one of the longest-running syndicated columnists in the country.
But some Kentucky authorities want to put him in a time out.
In May, Kentucky’s attorney general and its Board of Examiners of Psychology told Rosemond his parenting column – which regularly offers old-school advice and shows little tolerance for any kind of parental coddling – amounts to the illegal practice of psychology.
They want him to agree to a cease-and-desist order. In particular, they want Rosemond to stop identifying himself as a psychologist, because he is not a licensed psychologist in Kentucky. They also suggest that columns written in a question-and-answer format are a particular concern because they are akin to providing direct mental health services.
Rosemond, an author of 11 parenting books who has a master’s degree in psychology from Western Illinois and is a licensed psychologist in his home state of North Carolina, sees the board’s letter as an effort at censorship and is filing a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court seeking to bar the state from taking any action against him. His column is syndicated through McClatchy-Tribune News services and is estimated to run in more than 200 newspapers, including The Buffalo News.
He is represented by the Arlington, Va.-based Institute for Justice, which has filed multiple lawsuits challenging what they see as overreach by government licensing boards.
Institute for Justice lawyer Paul Sherman says that under Kentucky’s logic, columnists such as Dear Abby and television personalities such as Dr. Phil are breaking the law any time they offer advice, because the content is aired in Kentucky and meets the state’s broad definition of psychological advice.
The psychology board’s administrator, Robin Vick, emphasized Tuesday that the case remains open and that no final action has been taken by the board, which did not respond to requests to discuss the details of the case. The office of Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, a Democrat, referred questions to the psychology board.
“I just feel it’s a good fight,” Rosemond said. “I’m a constitutional conservative, and I’m outraged by the attempt of government agencies to do this sort of thing.”