Monday, January 14, 2013
The United States Supreme Court agreed this past week to hear a challenge to a 2003 federal statute that requires groups accepting international aid intended to fight AIDS/HIV and other infectious diseases to adopt explicit policies opposing prostitution and sex trafficking. Some of the groups have challenged the law arguing that it unconstitutionally compels speech in violation of the First Amendment to the US Constitution. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the groups that the federal law is unconstitutional.
The federal statute at issue is the U.S. Leadership Against HIV/AIDs, Tuberculosis and Malaria Act of 2003. The purpose of the requirement to adopt policies against prostitution and sex trafficking is to reduce behaviors that lead to the spread of HIV/AIDs. While the humanitarian groups receiving the aid recognize the harms of prostitution and sex trafficking, they have argued that the speech restriction can hinder their work with high-risk groups.
The case is the U.S. Agency for International Development v. the Alliance for Open Society International.