Posted on June 20, 2013
Source: The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Groups receiving federal financing to combat AIDS abroad may not be required to adopt policies opposing prostitution, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.
Under a 2003 law, the federal government has distributed billions of dollars to private groups to help fight AIDS around the world, imposing two conditions in the process. First, the money may not be used “to promote or advocate the legalization or practice of prostitution and sex trafficking.” That condition was not before the court.
The question for the justices was whether the second condition, requiring recipients to have “a policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking,” passed constitutional muster.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for a six-justice majority, said the condition ran afoul of the First Amendment because it required recipients “to pledge allegiance to the government’s policy of eradicating prostitution.”
He said the groups challenging the law feared that “adopting a policy explicitly opposing prostitution may alienate certain host governments, and may diminish the effectiveness of some of their programs by making it more difficult to work with prostitutes.”