Judge: US Can Deny Federal Funding to AIDS Groups that Don't Disavow Sex Trafficking
Associated Press (02.28.07): Lara Jakes Jordan
On Tuesday in Washington , a federal appeals court upheld the Bush administration's policy that denies funding to AIDS nonprofits that do not publicly disavow prostitution and sex trafficking.
The initial case was brought by DKT International Inc., which runs HIV prevention and family planning programs in 11 nations. In its 2005 suit against the US Agency for International Development, DKT said its right to free speech was violated by the 2003 law requiring groups to state their opposition to prostitution and sex trafficking as a condition of receiving funds from the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. In a 2006 ruling, a US District Court agreed, noting that the restriction required groups to "parrot" the government's position.
The latest action by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia throws out that decision. US Circuit Judge A. Raymond Randolph said Congress had given the Bush administration the authority to assist nongovernmental groups like DKT "on such terms and conditions as the president may determine."
In a 10-page ruling, Randolph wrote, "The act does not compel DKT to advocate the government's position on prostitution and sex trafficking; it requires only that if DKT wishes to receive funds it must communicate the message the government chooses to fund. This does not violate the First Amendment."
S. Alex Williams