At the end of 2011, 34 million people were living with HIV, according to the World Health Organization, and AIDS took the lives of 1.7 million people that same year. In 2003, Congress took action to prevent the spread of infectious diseases worldwide by passing the United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003 (Leadership Act or Act). The Act designates federal funds to non-governmental organizations that fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS so long as the organization also opposes prostitution and sex trafficking. Petitioner United States Agency for International Development (USAID) argues that this policy requirement targets prostitution and sex trafficking as significant contributors to the spread of HIV/AIDS while minimally impacting, if at all, the speech of a federally funded organization. In contrast, respondent Alliance for Open Society International (AOSI) argues that the policy requirement violates the protections of the First Amendment by forcing a federally funded organization to adopt a viewpoint that may not only be insensitive to localized concerns regarding the trust of victims but also may distort public debate by inhibiting field research.
Whether the United States Leadership Against HIV/ AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003, 22 U.S.C. 7631(f), which requires an organization to have a policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking in order to receive federal funding to provide HIV and AIDS programs overseas, violates the First Amendment.
Does the government violate the First Amendment by funding organizations to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS only if they also oppose prostitution and sex trafficking?
- US: Court Overrules Anti-Prostitution Gag Rule for US Groups, Human Rights Watch (July 8, 2011)
- Sex Trafficking in the U.S., Polaris Project (2013).
- The White House National HIV/AIDS Strategy, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (2013).