High court strikes down anti-prostitution pledge
WASHINGTON — In a free-speech ruling, the Supreme Court said on Thursday that the government cannot force private health organizations to denounce prostitution as a condition of getting taxpayer money to fight AIDS around the world.
Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the court, said the anti-prostitution pledge in a 2003 AIDS funding law improperly restricts the groups' U.S. constitutional rights.
Four organizations that work in Africa, Asia and South America challenged the provision in the law, arguing their work has nothing to do with prostitution.
The Obama administration had countered that it is reasonable for the government to give money only to groups that oppose prostitution and sex trafficking because those activities contribute to the spread of HIV and AIDS. It said that if groups were not required to oppose prostitution and sex trafficking, they could spend private funds in a way that might undermine the government's mission.
In the 6-2 decision, Roberts wrote that requiring the pledge “goes beyond preventing recipients from using private funds in a way that would undermine the federal government. It requires them to pledge allegiance to the government's policy of eradicating prostitution.” That, the government cannot do, he wrote.
Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented. Scalia said the pledge “is nothing more than a means of selecting suitable agents to implement the government's chosen strategy to eradicate HIV/AIDS.”
“That is perfectly permissible under the Constitution,” Scalia wrote.
The AIDS funding case was one of three decided. The court also:
• Sided, by a 5-3 vote, with American Express in ruling that merchants who object to having to accept the company's debit and credit cards along with its iconic charge card cannot band together, but must resolve their disputes with the company one by one.
• Ruled 8-1 to limit judges' discretion in deciding whether defendants should be sentenced under a federal law that increases prison terms for people who have been convicted of three serious crimes.
Eleven cases remain unresolved as the court heads into its final days before taking a summer break. Among the outstanding cases are two involving gay marriage and two dealing with race — challenges to federal voting rights law and affirmative action in college admissions. The justices next meet on Monday to issue opinions.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- D.C. charges woman over armed protest
- U.S. to arm Iraq’s Sunni tribesmen
- Plan in works to speed up schools’ Internet service
- GOP hopes backlash doesn’t backfire
- Locavore movement takes to deer hunting across country
- 3-mile buffer suggested for grouse breeding, oil and gas drilling
- Off-duty officer fatally shot in Akron, Ohio, pub
- Former Pa. state worker charged with stealing 610 helmets
- U.S. releases ‘forever prisoner’ from Gitmo
- Former nuke commander linked to fake poker chips
- Man sets house fire, kills deputy