History: Supreme Court strikes down Obama-backed ‘prostitution pledge’ in AIDS funding

– The Washington Times – Thursday, June 20, 2013

An anti-prostitution provision in a federal AIDS funding program created under the George W. Bush administration was struck down as unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday

The decision is a victory for private aid organizations that believe the provision, which required them to explicitly oppose prostitution and sex trafficking as a condition for getting federal dollars, has blocked them from serving at-risk AIDS populations, such as sex workers.

The 6-2 decision, written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., said it is a violation of the First Amendment to require people “to pledge allegiance to the government’s policy of eradicating prostitution” as a funding condition.

Associate Justice Elena Kagan, who was the Obama administration’s solicitor general before joining the court in 2010, recused herself from the case. Associates Justice Antonin Scalia and Associate Justice Clarence Thomas dissented.

The provision — sometimes called the “prostitution pledge” — was part of the U.S. Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Act of 2003. The act includes the $4.5 billion President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

The law says its funds cannot be used “to promote or advocate the legalization or practice of prostitution or sex trafficking.” But it went further, asking that grant recipients adopt that same viewpoint and sign a pledge that they “explicitly” opposed prostitution and sex trafficking.

That requirement “to profess a specific belief” went too far, the majority wrote, affirming a 2011 decision by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals that struck down the pledge.

Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican, called the ruling “extremely disappointing and tragic for all victims of sexual exploitation, including sex trafficking.”

He and other lawmakers had put the pledge into the PEPFAR program as a way to ensure that the U.S. government didn’t unwittingly fund or promote commercial sex activities — “pimps and brothel owners” — as part of the battle to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.

“The U.S. taxpayer may well now legitimately question whether U.S. assistance being given for laudable purposes is being administered by hands that undermine those very goals,” said Mr. Smith, chairman of the global human rights panel on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, praised the ruling, saying, “I have noted time and again that we cannot successfully combat HIV/AIDS by ignoring commercial sex workers who transmit the disease.”

The Alliance for Open Society International (AOSI) and three other AIDS-fighting groups challenged the law as an unconstitutional violation of free speech.

“Today’s ruling is an important victory toward lifting the taboo that has plagued HIV prevention programs since the anti-prostitution pledge began,” said Marine Buissonniere, director of the Open Society Public Health Program.

“It is critical to work in concert with sex workers and their advocates in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Condemnation and alienation are not public health strategies,” she said.

The U.S. Agency for International Development, which oversees PEPFAR, was sued in the case.

In April, when the high court heard arguments on the case, Deputy Solicitor General Sri Srinivasan defended the law, saying Congress placed rational limitations on the use of its HIV/AIDS funds.

The government can and does set restrictions on its funding programs to find the best “partners” for its efforts, and it is reasonable to ask groups receiving funds to fight AIDS to also oppose prostitution and sex trafficking, said Mr. Srinivasan, who represented the Agency for International Development, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He has since been confirmed to join the D.C. federal appeals court.

On the other side, David W. Bowker, who represented AOSI, a group funded by billionaire George Soros, said the pledge was unconstitutional and hobbles AIDS-fighting efforts with one of the very populations that needs services.

The pledge makes funding recipients go through “an ideological purity test” and then forces them “to adopt and express the government’s viewpoint as their own,” the AOSI, Pathfinder International, the Global Health Council and InterAction said in their brief. The pledge does not even apply to other government-funded public health programs, they noted.

In their dissent, Justices Scalia and Thomas said “a central part of the government’s HIV/AIDS strategy is the suppression of prostitution, by which HIV is transmitted. It is entirely reasonable to admit to participation in the program only those who believe in that goal.”

The AOSI runs a program in Central Asia to reduce drug use and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, while Pathfinder International offers family planning and reproductive health care in more than 20 countries. The two other groups, the Global Health Council and InterAction, are involved in fighting AIDS through public health and collaborative efforts of nongovernmental organizations.

In: thewashingtontimes 

USA same sex marriage: Kim Davis, Kentucky Clerk, Held in Contempt and Ordered to Jail

Image: gannett-cdn.com

Image: gannett-cdn.com

Image: nydailynews

Image: nydailynews

A federal judge has ordered a Kentucky clerk to jail after she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Kim Davis, a clerk in Rowan County, was found in contempt of court on Thursday morning. She has said granting marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples would “violate God’s definition of marriage” and infringe on her personal beliefs as an Apostolic Christian.

Davis, in tears, said on the stand that she could not comply with the judge’s order. U.S. Marshals later took her into custody.

“Thank you, judge,” Davis said as she was being led out.

District Court Judge David Bunning has said Davis is bound by an oath of office to perform her duties under the law, and ordered that she be jailed until she complied with his order to grant licenses.

Bunning has upheld the Supreme Court’s decision in June to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, and wrote last month after the contempt lawsuit was filed that the state is merely forcing her to do her job within the law.

Before the hearing, dozens of protesters on both side of the issue clashed outside of the federal courthouse in Covington, some in support of Davis for standing up for her beliefs.

While clerks in other states have made similar refusals, Davis’ defiance is the most prominent — leading GOP presidential candidates to weigh in and casting a spotlight on her personal life, too.

It was revealed this week that she was divorced three times and had children out of wedlock before a religious awakening became a turning point in her life.

Davis, a registered Democrat, had worked as a deputy clerk for 27 years before voters in Rowan County elected her as clerk last November.

As an elected official, she can only be removed in a vote by state legislators, who don’t reconvene in the State House until January.

Despite her political leanings, she’s likely to get much support from Republicans lawmakers.

In: nbcnews

“Under God’s authority”: The case of clerk Kim Davis

meme secular state

Not for winning or being appointed in clerk position, this will belong to her and, from that post, she can decide who deserves a service and who does not. The exercise of public service is not about choices (It’s Not About what you believe) because is a duty, and she can´t have that discriminatory behavior against any person in relation with the goods and services that the state provides to its citizens.

Public service is mandatory for all civil servant. Public administration and the civil service is characterized by the objectivity and impartiality that is embodied in the fact prevent personal or individual elements affect the civil servant criteria when making decisions.

Public and civil servants must be objective in the line of duty. It’s like saying “think with reason and not so much with the heart”. It’s like going to a restaurant and the customer orders to the waiter “I would like to order biscuits ’n’ gravy” and the waiter answers to the consumer “sorry I don’t like biscuits ’n’ gravy, so you don’t deserve it, too”.

Finally, rule of law is a principle in public administration and because of that she can´t deny the marriage service even more if the SCOTUS ruled the same sex marriage as a right nationwide. The public servants develops their duties inside a secular state.


See: The Kentucky clerk who won’t issue marriage licences, and all her deputy clerks have been called to appear at a federal court hearing

Grupos de derechos no estan conformes con el fallo de la Corte Suprema de los EE.UU. sobre la ley de inmigración de Arizona


La Corte Suprema estadounidense declaró este lunes constitucional que la policía del estado de Arizona (suroeste) pueda verificar la documentación de un sospechoso de ser inmigrante ilegal, una medida sin precedentes a la que se oponía el gobierno de Barack Obama.

La Corte decidió sin embargo invalidar otras tres disposiciones de la ley conocida como SB 1070, que provocó un agudo debate sobre los derechos de los estados y del gobierno federal.

Uno de los magistrados señaló que la opinión de la corte fue unánime con relación a permitir que se realice la verificación del estatus migratorio del sospechoso. El máximo tribunal estuvo dividido en torno a derogar las otras disposiciones.


Rights groups dissatisfied with US Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s immigration law

Asian and Latino civil and immigrant rights groups in California Monday voiced their dissatisfaction over the US Supreme Court ruling on the Arizona anti-immigration law.

A rally and vigil in response to the Supreme Court ruling announcement on the constitutionality of Arizona’s immigration law was held Monday afternoon in front of the US Federal Court building in Los Angeles, organized by civil and immigrants’ rights groups, Asian and Latino community leaders.

The US Supreme Court Monday invalidated critical provisions of the Arizona anti-immigration law, SB1070, holding that those provisions are preempted by federal law.

But the US Supreme Court upheld the controversial provision which has led to racial profiling in other states that have enacted similar provisions, according to the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) in Los Angeles.

As a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling, local law enforcement officers can no longer criminalize failure to carry immigration registration documents or conduct warrantless arrests, but they can still use the mandate to target individuals based on their appearance and speech if the officers believe that a suspect is in the country illegally, APALC said in a statement.

“We are pleased that the US Supreme Court reaffirmed the long standing view that the federal government has the ultimate authority on immigration,” said Jessica Chia, staff attorney at the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC) and counsel in the Friendly House litigation.

“However, the Court’s decision to uphold racial profiling is deeply troubling and we have grave concerns about how this provision will be implemented, what constitutes ‘reasonable suspicion,’ and how officers will be able to enforce this provision without discriminating individuals based on appearance or speech,” Chia added.

Two members of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice), Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) and AAJC, are co-counsel with a coalition of civil rights groups in a separate lawsuit — that challenged SB1070 because it violates many constitutional rights, including the right to be treated equally regardless of race, the two groups alleged.

One of the Friendly House plaintiffs is Jim Shee, a US citizen of Spanish and Chinese descent. In April 2010, when SB1070 was passed, Shee was stopped twice by local law enforcement and asked to provide his identification documents. As a result, he now carries his passport with him at all times in case he is again pulled over and required to prove his right to be in his own country and state.

“Upholding the narrowest provisions of SB1070 adversely impacts our communities of color. Sanctioning local and state law enforcement to target a person based solely on their ethnicity is inherently unconstitutional and fundamentally contrary to the ideals of our nation,” said Reena Arya, staff attorney at the Asian Law Caucus (ALC).

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), the immigrants’ rights group whose members are mostly Latinos, said the “show-me-your-papers” provision essentially condones racial profiling.

“Thousands upon thousands of people will fall prey to fishing expeditions by anti-immigrant forces,” said Angelica Salas, CHIRLA’s executive director.

In 2011, five US states — Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah — enacted similar state immigration enforcement laws. Federal courts have blocked most of the key provisions of these laws, and those injunctions will not immediately be affected by Monday’s decision.

No other US state has passed a copycat law in 2012, and a growing number of states have realized these laws lead to civil rights abuses for immigrants and citizens, harm businesses, and conflict with fundamental American values of fairness and equality.

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