Supreme Court upholds Smith’s 2003 human trafficking amendment to HIV/AIDS initiative
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) welcomed today’s United States Supreme Court ruling in USAID v. Alliance for Open Society upholding a key amendment he wrote in 2003 to the United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act that provides federal funding to foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) provided they have a policy explicitly opposing sex trafficking and prostitution.
Smith said, “Today’s Supreme Court decision is a major victory in the struggle against HIV, for human rights and the fight against sex trafficking.”
“No one supports the exemplary work of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDs Relief (PEPFAR) more than me. I pushed hard for the law’s enactment in 2003,” he said.
According to the Court’s opinion, the Leadership Act has helped save an estimated 17 million lives, primarily in Africa, and is widely viewed as the most successful American foreign aid program since the Marshall Plan.
“Who we fund—not just what—matters a great deal. It would be wrong for the United States to fund or facilitate the exploitation of women through sex trafficking and prostitution. U.S. taxpayers should not be coerced into funding the traffickers who degrade and commit unspeakable acts of violence against women and children,” he added.
The Supreme Court decision notes that foreign NGOs possess no First Amendment rights that could be violated by this requirement—even if they are affiliated with a U.S. based NGO.
Justice Kavanaugh, delivered the opinion of the Court which said in part, “As relevant here, Congress sought to fund only those organizations that have, or agree to have, a “policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking.” §7631(f ); see also §7631(e); 45 CFR §89.1 (2019).
Justice Kavanaugh added: “Congress imposed that condition on funding known as the Policy Requirement, because Congress found that prostitution and sex trafficking “are additional causes of and factors in the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic” and that prostitution and sex trafficking “are degrading to women and children.”
Justice Kavanaugh also wrote “In 2003, Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed the United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act, known as the Leadership Act. 117 Stat. 711, as amended, 22 U. S. C. §7601 et seq. Aiming to enhance America’s response to the ravages of the global HIV/AIDS crisis, the Leadership Act launched “the largest international public health program of its kind ever created.” §7601(29). The Act has helped save an estimated 17 million lives, primarily in Africa, and is widely viewed as the most successful American foreign aid program since the Marshall Plan. To advance the global relief effort, Congress has allocated billions of dollars to American and foreign nongovernmental organizations that combat HIV/AIDS abroad.”