06.20.13

Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On The Supreme Court’s Decision In Agency For International Development v. Alliance For Open Society International

[The Supreme Court ruled 6-2 Thursday that a policy of the United States Agency for International Development requiring private health organizations to denounce prostitution as a condition of receiving U.S. government assistance violates the First Amendment.  Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) joined an amicus brief in the case that argued the policy could not be constitutionally justified, and he has previously stated that private organizations need flexibility to effectively combat HIV/AIDS.]

“The Supreme Court has decided that private organizations that receive federal funding to combat HIV/AIDS overseas cannot be compelled to abide by an unwise and impractical policy that violates their First Amendment rights.  I have noted time and again that we cannot successfully combat HIV/AIDS by ignoring commercial sex workers who transmit the disease.  Denying funding to organizations that work to prevent HIV/AIDS if they do not take a pledge against prostitution is a Hobson’s Choice: either give up your right of free speech or damage your credibility with the very people whose behavior you are seeking to change.  The fight against HIV/AIDS is far too important to be impeded by politics.  I signed an amicus brief highlighting the importance of supporting these organizations so they can continue their lifesaving work.  This ruling will allow them to do that.”

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