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Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Case Challenging Federal Anti-Prostitution Pledge

“The Supreme Court agreed [on Friday] to consider whether the government can require groups that receive federal funding for overseas HIV/AIDS programs to have explicit policies that oppose prostitution and sex trafficking,” Reuters reports. The case “involves the government’s effort to overturn a July 2011 lower court decision voiding the policy requirement set forth in the U.S. Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003,” the news agency writes (Stempel, 1/11). “[T]he groups that do the work said the requirement would undermine their anti-AIDS efforts and is an intrusion on their free-speech rights,” the Washington Post states, adding the government argued the law “is meant to ensure that its non-governmental partners comply with a ‘strategy that seeks not only to treat HIV/AIDS but to reduce the behavioral risks that foster its spread’” (Barnes, 1/11).

“The Supreme Court has said that Congress generally can place conditions on the receipt of federal funds,” Bloomberg reports but notes the federal appeals court in July 2011 “said Congress went too far with the 2003 law by requiring organizations to ‘affirmatively say something — that they are opposed to the practice of prostitution’” (Stohr, 1/11). “The case is U.S. Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Society International,” the Washington Post states, adding, “Justice Elena Kagan recused herself from the case, presumably because she had worked on it during her time as President Obama’s solicitor general” (1/11).