Appeals Court: Gov’t Can’t Force Groups To Oppose Prostitution

From Reuters: In a split 2-1 decision, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that nonprofit groups could not be forced to adopt a policy opposing prostitution in order to receive funding from a 2003 spending bill passed by the U.S. Congress.

This is a more important ruling than it might seem. In recent years Congress has been more eager than ever to tack “thought police” provisions onto important legislation. This has long been the government’s way of forcing private (and often non-profit) organizations to support and adopt Sexual Dark Age policies and ideals so they can get funding they critically need.

In this instance, United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003 included a provision stating: “no funds made available to carry out this Act . . . may be used to provide assistance to any group or organization that does not have a policy explicitly opposing prostitution.”

So, the government will help fund the fight against three horrendous diseases, but they’ll only help organizations that explicitly support right-wing values. This is the same general kind of bullshit that was recently used in an attempt to strip all federal funding from Planned Parenthood. Thankfully 2 of 3 judges in this particular appeals court, which happens to be in New York (don’t look for rulings like this in Idaho), are still willing to slap Congress back in line once in a while.

The ruling says, in part: “Congress’s spending power, while broad, is not unlimited, and other constitutional provisions may provide an independent bar to the conditional grant of federal funds…the government may not place a condition on the receipt of a benefit or subsidy that infringes upon the recipient’s constitutionally protected rights.”

Regardless of your personal opinions on prostitution, you should be thanking these judges for propping up our embattled First Amendment. In case you’re not, I’ll do it for you.

Thank you, judges Barrington Parker and Rosemary Pooler, for slowing the demise of American civil rights and doing a bit to keep Congress in check. They’re not there to legislate social policy.


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