Supreme Court Tests Bush-Era Law Forcing Nonprofits to Denounce Sex Work

Supreme Court Tests Bush-Era Law Forcing Nonprofits to Denounce Sex Work

WASHINGTON — U.S. Supreme Court justices voiced their concern Tuesday that a 2003 law that requires overseas affiliates of American nonprofits to take a formal stance opposing sex work in order to get federal funding might violate constitutional Free Speech rights.

In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled the law indeed violated the Free Speech rights of U.S. groups, but did not decide about the constitutionality of forcing overseas partners to state a blanket policy against sex work.

In an early example of a case where the justices heard arguments via teleconference, several justices “signaled sympathy toward arguments” by the HIV/AIDS-relief groups “that to an ordinary person these organizations and their overseas affiliates” seem indistinguishable, according to Reuters.

“The groups challenging the funding restrictions — part of a law enacted under Republican former President George W. Bush — currently take no stance on prostitution. They said the requirement that their overseas affiliates take such a position interferes with the ability to provide advice and counseling to sex workers about the risks of HIV infection,” the Reuters report commented.

The Trump administration chose to appeal a 2018 ruling by the New York-based Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in favor of the HIV/AIDS-relief nonprofits.

The nonprofits had obtained an injunction in 2006 preventing enforcement of the policy.

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