Texas Veterinary Speech

Hines v. Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners
Retired Texas Vet’s Free-Speech Fight to Keep Helping Animals

IJ Client Dr. Ron Hines

Institute for Justice client Dr. Ron Hines. 

Video: Puppies & Kittens & Censors...Oh my!


This First Amendment lawsuit seeks to eliminate obsolete regulatory barriers to the use of the Internet to provide expert advice.  This suit has implications for medicine, law, psychology, financial advice, and many other occupations that often involve nothing but speech in the form of advice.

Dr. Ron Hines—a retired and physically disabled Texas-licensed veterinarian—has used the Internet since 2002 to help pet owners from across the country and around the world, often for free and sometimes for a $58 flat fee.  Ron helps people who have conflicting diagnoses from their local vets, who live in remote parts of the world without access to trustworthy veterinarians, and who cannot afford traditional veterinary care. No one has ever complained about Ron’s advice. 

Then Ron discovered that he had been on a decade-long crime spree.  In Texas, it is a crime for a veterinarian to give advice over the Internet without having first physically examined the animal.  On March 25, 2013, the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners shut Ron down, suspended his license, fined him, and made him retake portions of the veterinary licensing exam.  Texas did this without even an allegation that Ron harmed any animal.

Now Ron is fighting back.  Together with the Institute for Justice, Ron has filed a free-speech lawsuit in federal court to defend his First Amendment right to communicate with people about their pets using the Internet.  But this case is bigger than Ron Hines.  It is about protecting Internet freedom and free speech for Americans everywhere.



Essential Background


Backgrounder on IJ's Texas Vet Speech case

Client Photo

Latest Release: Texas Veterinarian Will Ask U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Free Speech Case about Advice over the Internet (March 30, 2015) Client Video
 Launch Release: Life-Saving Internet Veterinarian Shut Down (April 9, 2013)


 Legal Briefs and Decisions
Download: IJ's Complaint (April 8, 2013) PDF 
Download: Cert Petition

Case Timeline

Filed Lawsuit:


April 8, 2013

Court Filed:

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas

Decision(s): None Available
Current Court:

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas



In Trial Court
Next Key Date: TBD

Additional Releases

Maps, Charts and Facts

Release: Is Advice Given Over The Internet Free Speech? (January 5, 2015)

Report: License to Work 

Release: Federal Court Denies Motion to Dismiss Internet Veterinarian Case (February 12, 2014)

Op-eds, News Articles and Links

Article: Texas Web Vet Loses Court Appeal Veterinary Practice News (March 30, 2015)
Article: Should Tour Guides Be Licensed? Newsweek (November 27, 2014)
Article: Speech must still be free on the Internet Star-Telegram (February 14, 2014)
Op-ed: Censoring vet's advice insults 1st Amendment USA Today (April 9, 2013) 
Article: Texas veterinarian whose license was suspended for online work challenges decision in lawsuit AP (April 9, 2013)

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