Sometimes the good guys (people) win

Supreme Court does the right thing

Thursday, June 20, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in the prostitution pledge case, holding that the pledge violates the First Amendment. As my colleague, UNC public policy assistant professor Ben Meier wrote, “I am excited to let you know that the Supreme Court just struck down the requirement that denies funding to any organization that does not have a policy explicitly opposing prostitution.”

Here is the amicus curiae brief submitted to seek a Supreme Court ruling to overturn the requirement. I decided to sign on to the brief, along with a number of other people, including many other public health deans. It was a very bad precedent for government to require funding recipients to sign a pledge like the one of concern here. It is a violation of free speech.

To change people’s behaviors, we often must work with those people collaboratively, meeting them on their turf and territory. AIDS grew to epidemic proportions in many countries as a result of the sex trade, and it was success in managing sex workers’ behaviors that has led to downturns in HIV transmission. Researchers collaborated with sex workers, in many cases, to develop interventions that were acceptable to them, and that worked. The pledge would have made this success impossible.

Now, I’m hoping that the Supreme Court also will do the right thing on affirmative action. Happy Monday. Barbara

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