Anti-Prostitution Pledge Faces Another Round at High Court

WASHINGTON (CN) — Six years after throwing out the “anti-prostitution pledge” AIDS charities had to make to get federal funding, the justices agreed Friday to decide what requirements can be made of the charities’ foreign affiliates.

The pledge had been a stipulation of the 2003 Leadership Act. Though the law supports an international campaign to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria pandemics across the globe, it controversially included a subclause that prohibited any funds from going “to any group or organization that does not have a policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking.”

The nonprofit groups Alliance for an Open Society International and Pathfinder International sued the agencies implementing the funding in 2005, arguing that such a pledge costs them international credibility, compromises their institutional integrity, interferes with prevention outreach to sex workers and violates the organizations’ free speech rights.

On the heels of a Supreme Court win in 2013, the groups moved to have their injunction applied both to themselves and foreign affiliates operating overseas.

They prevailed in District Court and before the Second Circuit but now must head to the Supreme Court again as the U.S. Agency for International Development seeks a reversal.

Per its custom, the U.S. Supreme Court did not issue any comment in taking up the case.

U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco will represent the government before the high court.

David Bowker of the firm WilmerHale represents Open Society International. Neither attorney responded to a request for comment Friday.

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