Supreme Court Rejects Anti-Prostitution Pledge

Ruling strikes down restrictions on AIDS funding

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 20, 2013 2:40 PM CDT

(Newser) – The government can't make opposition to prostitution a prerequisite for federal funding for non-profits, the Supreme Court ruled today. In doing so, it struck down a 2003 law that required any group getting federal funding for HIV-prevention programs overseas to have a blanket policy against sex trafficking and prostitution. Opponents said the law made it difficult for groups to help prostitutes, often the ones most in need of HIV intervention. The decision was 6-2, with Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas in the minority and Elena Kagan recusing herself, Reuters reports.

In his majority opinion, John Roberts explained that the law violated the non-profits' First Amendment rights. The condition amounted to "the affirmation of a belief that by its nature cannot be confined within the scope of the government program," he wrote. In his dissent, Scalia argued that the rule was "nothing more than a means of selecting suitable agents to perform the government's chosen strategy."

A file photo of the US Supreme Court in Washington.
A file photo of the US Supreme Court in Washington.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
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