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Supreme Court Rules International AIDS Programs Need Not Exclude Prostitutes to Receive Federal Funding

Earlier today the Supreme Court ruled that international AIDS groups do not need to explicitly oppose sex trafficking and prostitution to receive federal funds. The Supreme Court held that the federal government, which required these multi-billion dollar groups to adopt this policy in order to receive funding, violated the groups’ right to free speech.

The ruling overturns a provision under a federal law passed in 2003 forbidding any organization that receives federal funding to “promote or advocate the legalization or practice of prostitution or sex trafficking.” It argues that these practices spread the disease. Currently, the government spends $60 billion on these programs.

These groups protested and argued that those subjected to prostitution and sex trafficking are precisely those who need help most. Moreover, the provision violates their First Amendment right.

Roberts ruled that the government, in determining who is awarded funding, may impose certain requirements. However, it may not require these groups to “pledge allegiance to the government’s policy of eradicating prostitution.”

Only Scalia and Thomas dissented with Kagen recusing herself. In his dissent, “The First Amendment does not mandate a viewpoint-neutral government,” Scalia argued. “The government may enlist the assistance of those who believe in its ideas to carry them to fruition; and it need not enlist for that purpose those who oppose or do not support the ideas.”

This ruling comes in the Supreme Court’s penultimate week. Though Monday is the Supreme Court’s official last day, it is likely, given the significance of their upcoming rulings, the justices will extend their rulings a couple days. Still left to be decided are the extremely controversial issues of affirmative action, same sex marriage and voting rights.

Sources: Washington Post


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