US Supreme Court to Hear Freedom of Speech Case

The US Supreme Court agreed on Friday to hear a case on freedom of speech.  The case concerns the First Amendment, which prevents the passage of any law the infringes on freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of peaceable assembly, freedom of the press, or any law prohibiting petitioning government for redress of grievances.

The case concerns a 2003 law passed by the federal government in America requiring any groups receiving government funding to fight AIDS abroad to expressly state an opposition to prostitution in their policy.  The groups are arguing that this interferes with their independent operation.  They say that they attempt to avoid offending the cultural groups with whom they work, and making such an outright statement on prostitution undermines those efforts.

The Supreme Court has said that the government may not attach conditions to the funding it gives to groups, regardless of the fact that it may choose to give or refuse the funding at any point.  In 2011 a divided three-judge panel for the United States Court of Appeal second-circuit upheld the law.  The majority held that the law “compels grantees to espouse the government’s position on a controversial issue,” thereby violating the First Amendment.

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