Private groups receiving federal money to fight AIDS overseas cannot be forced to “pledge allegiance” to US government policies, the US Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
The 6-2 decision strikes down part of a 2003 law that requires such groups to denounce prostitution and sex-trafficking, according to the Associated Press.
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Four groups that work in Africa, Asia and South America had challenged the provision in the law.
They claimed their work had nothing to do with prostitution and Chief Justice John Roberts agreed, writing in the ruling that the provision violates the groups’ First Amendment rights.
“The Policy Requirement goes beyond preventing recipients from using private funds in a way that would undermine the federal program. It requires them to pledge allegiance to the Government’s policy of eradicating prostitution,” he wrote.
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The Obama administration had argued the requirement was reasonable because prostitution and sex trafficking contribute to the spread of HIV and AIDS.
Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas dissented.
“The First Amendment,” Scalia wrote, “does not mandate a viewpoint-neutral government.”
Justice Elena Kagan recused herself from the case.