In a blow to George Soros' leftwing initiatives, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that foreign affiliates of his Open Society Foundations (OSF) are not protected by the Constitution and therefore must abide by a congressionally mandated anti-prostitution pledge to receive federal funding. Under a 2003 law called United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Act
the U.S. spends tens of billions of dollars to combat AIDS globally and a chunk of the cash flows into OSF coffers. Under the measure organizations that receive American taxpayer dollars to fight HIV/AIDS abroad must adopt policies opposing sex trafficking and prostitution. Leftist groups legally challenged the rule years ago, claiming that it violated their First Amendment right to free speech. In 2013 the Supreme Court agreed, ruling that the policy requirement infringed on the American groups' constitutionally protected freedom of speech.
The decision only applies to American organizations however, so an OSF affiliate called Alliance for Open Society International, which is handsomely funded by Uncle Sam, has engaged in litigation for more than a decade and a half to obtain the same exemption. The Soros group sued for permanent injunctive relief and a New York District Court ruled in its favor before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed. In a 5-3 ruling, the Supreme Court recently reversed the appellate court decision, determining that foreign affiliates of U.S.-based groups that get federal dollars to combat HIV/AIDS abroad are not protected under the Constitution. "In short, plaintiffs' foreign affiliates are foreign organizations, and foreign organizations operating abroad have no First Amendment rights,"
according to the ruling
, written for the majority by Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Because the foreign Soros groups possess no First Amendment rights, applying the anti-prostitution policy requirement is not unconstitutional, the decision further points out, stating that under American constitutional law, foreign citizens outside U.S. territory do not possess rights under the Constitution.
Congress included the important policy in its landmark measure to combat HIV/AIDS globally because it determined that prostitution and sex trafficking are additional causes and factors in the spread of the deadly virus. Federal lawmakers also wrote in their legislation, which has helped save 17 million lives, that prostitution and sex trafficking are degrading to women and children. "No funds made available to carry out this Act, or any amendment made by this Act, may be used to provide assistance to any group or organization that does not have a policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking,"
the law states. Leftist groups receiving federal funds assert that condemning prostitution and sex trafficking interferes with their efforts to help those with HIV/AIDS because it creates a stigma. The government's anti-prostitution pledge "falsely casts sex workers as part of the problem rather than acknowledging their important role in developing and implementing successful HIV/AIDS-prevention strategies,"
according to an OSF publication
released years ago.
The recent Supreme Court ruling
was a "blow to free speech and public health,"
according to a statement issued by Soros' OSF. It quotes OSF President Patrick Gaspard saying that "the Supreme Court upheld the U.S. government's quest to impose its harmful ideological agenda on U.S. organizations and restrict their right to free speech."
He continues. "The Anti-Prostitution Pledge compromises the fight against HIV by impeding and stigmatizing efforts to deliver health services. Condemnation of marginalized groups is not a public health strategy."
The statement claims that research has repeatedly found that moral rejection and criminalization of sex work creates an environment where sex workers are more vulnerable to violence and abuse and consequently at greater risk of contracting HIV. "These issues are heightened in the context of COVID-19, when sex workers face financial devastation that further contributes to these disproportionate health and safety risks," the OSF writes, circling back to blast the Supreme Court ruling because it "will prohibit critical organizations from providing services and support to sex workers who are too often left out of — or are antagonized by — government responses to the pandemic."