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Supreme Court blocks funding for Soros-backed NGOs over absence of anti-prostitution pledge

Supreme Court blocks funding for Soros-backed NGOs over absence of anti-prostitution pledge
The US Supreme Court has denied federal funding to billionaire financier George Soros’ international anti-AIDS organizations, ruling that in order to access the federal cash, the groups must explicitly oppose prostitution.

The court’s five conservative-leaning justices overruled three of their liberal colleagues on Monday, with Justice Brett Kavanaugh delivering the majority verdict. The fourth liberal justice, Elena Kagan, sat out the case.

The Alliance for Open Society International, a US-based subsidiary of Soros’ Open Society Foundations, hoped to distribute federal funds earmarked for the fight against HIV/AIDS to its foreign sister organizations. However, these organizations refused to comply with a 2003 Congressional requirement that they adopt “a policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking,” which Congress at the time described as “additional causes of… the HIV/AIDS epidemic.” 

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In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that this policy requirement violated the First Amendment rights of the Soros-funded groups. However, the court on Monday ruled that the groups’ foreign affiliates are not afforded the same protection under the Constitution.

“In sum, plaintiffs’ foreign affiliates are foreign organizations, and foreign organizations operating abroad possess no rights under the US Constitution,” Kavanaugh concluded.

Open Society Foundations President Patrick Gaspard described the anti-prostitution pledge as part of “the US government’s quest to impose its harmful ideological agenda,” adding that it “compromises the fight against HIV by impeding and stigmatizing efforts to deliver health services.”

Justice Clarence Thomas, concurring with Kavanaugh, was unsympathetic in his ruling. An anti-prostitution pledge is “the reasonable price of admission to a limited government-spending program,” he wrote, adding that the Soros-supported organizations remain “free to accept or reject” it at their choosing.

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