The Trump administration opposes a bid to use unclaimed money from a legal settlement over the government's infamous Tuskegee syphilis study to fund a museum honoring victims of the research project, the AP reports. The Justice Department argues that providing the money to the Tuskegee Human and Civil Rights Multicultural Center would violate an agreement reached in 1975 to settle a class-action lawsuit. For the study, government medical workers operating in rural, segregated Alabama withheld treatment from hundreds of unsuspecting black men infected with syphilis so doctors could track the disease and dissect their bodies afterward.
The government said that it "does not intend in any way to justify, condone, or defend the Tuskegee Syphilis Study," but allowing remaining money from a $9 million settlement to be used for the museum would violate the settlement's original provision that any left over money go back to the government. The victims of the experiment wanted to be remembered in a memorial that told their story, an attorney said in court documents, and a county-owned history museum that already includes exhibits about the study could use the "relatively small" amount of unclaimed money. The men's names are emblazoned in a circle on the floor of the museum, which only opens during the summer because of funding shortages.