WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is stepping into a First Amendment dispute over whether the United States can force private health organizations to denounce prostitution as a condition to get AIDS funding.
The justices said Friday they will hear the government's appeal of a lower court ruling that found the anti-prostitution pledge, in a provision of federal law, violated the health groups' constitutional rights.
At issue is the United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003. It requires groups seeking federal money to announce publicly that they oppose prostitution and sex-trafficking.
The government often attaches conditions to the receipt of federal funds, but the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said the law went well beyond what is permissible.