Supreme Court Upholds Prostitution Pledge for AIDS Funding

June 29, 2020 by Dan McCue
A model of the Supreme Court chamber. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court upheld a provision of federal law Monday that requires foreign affiliates of U.S.-based health organizations to denounce prostitution as a condition of receiving taxpayer money to fight AIDS around the world. 

Writing for the majority in the 5-3 ruling, Justice Brett Kavanaugh said the “plaintiffs’ foreign affiliates are foreign organizations, and foreign organizations operating abroad possess no rights under the U. S. Constitution.”

Justice Elena Kagan recused herself from the case, USAID v. Alliance for Open Society International Inc., due to her having worked on an earlier version of it when she served in the Justice Department. 

The case was the second time the justices weighed in on a federal program that has spent nearly $80 billion to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS. 

The court ruled in 2013 that the anti-prostitution pledge, contained in a 2003 law, improperly restricts the U.S. groups’ constitutional rights. The new question, when the case was argued remotely because of the coronavirus in May, was whether the administration can subject the foreign organizations to the pledge. 

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