The Supreme Court has ruled against George Soros' Open Society Foundations and upheld a law requiring foreign NGOs receiving funds to sign an anti-prostitution pledge.

In a 5-3 decision on Monday, June 29, 2020, the Supreme Court has upheld a federal requirement that foreign affiliates of U.S. organizations must agree to denounce prostitution if they are to receive taxpayer money to fight AIDS abroad.

The Court held that foreign affiliates of American non-governmental organizations (NGOs) possess no First Amendment Rights. Therefore, the requirement that organizations that receive aid under the United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act have "a policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking" does not violate the Constitution.

The case, USAID v. Alliance for Open Society International Inc., 19-177, is a follow-up on a 2013 case in which the Court ruled that the anti-prostitution pledge unconstitutionally restricted the U.S. groups' constitutional rights.  The 2020 case involved whether the government can require foreign organizations or arms of U.S. organizations to agree to the pledge.

According to their website, Open Society Foundations, founded and chaired by George Soros, argues that "sex work" is "a consensual transaction between adults, where the act of selling or buying sexual services is not a violation of human rights. Conflating trafficking with sex work can be harmful and counterproductive."

The site continues, "Sex workers, like most workers, have diverse feelings about their work. Some sex workers dislike their work but find that it is their best or only option to make a living. Some are agnostic about their work but find that it offers flexibility or good pay. And some enjoy the work and find it all around rewarding or fun. Regardless of what sex workers think about their work, they deserve workplace health and safety and human rights."

In a press release dated June 29, 2020, Open Society Foundations said the ruling was "a blow to free speech and public health."

Analysis:  This is a nuanced issue because while it's reasonable to believe that the US government should not be funding organizations that refuse to take a stand against prostitution, there is nothing in the ruling that can stop a future administration from requiring that NGOs receiving US funds pledge that they will not oppose abortion, or make similar pledges on other issues that violate the NGO's beliefs.  The point is that with government money comes government control, even if the money is for activities in foreign countries. 

 

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