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Public Statements

Supreme Court Appeal Must be Filed by May 2

Location: Washington, DC

"The U.S. Justice Department should immediately petition the U.S. Supreme Court to review a legal challenge to the 2003 federal law that prevents international groups that promote and enable prostitution and sex trafficking from receiving HIV/AIDS funding," said Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), Chairman of the House congressional panel that oversees international human rights and global health issues.

Twenty-four House Members signed a letter calling on U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli to meet the May 2nd deadline to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold this funding prohibition of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)--by asking the high court to resolve conflicting circuit court determinations as to its constitutionality.

Smith is the author of the funding prohibition that is at issue. He also sponsored the Trafficking Victim's Protection Act and is the Co-Chairman of the Congressional Human Trafficking Caucus.

A ruling issued by a panel of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals contradicts the 2007 ruling of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the prohibition, 22 U.S.C. Sec. 7631(f). That provision states that "no funds made available to carry out this Act┬ůmay be used to provide assistance to any group or organization that does not have a policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking."

"Not only is there a need to clarify this split between the two circuit courts which will result in the statute being enforceable in some jurisdictions but not in others, but it is imperative that the congressional policy not to direct funds to organizations or groups that support prostitution and sex trafficking be upheld in all jurisdictions," the letter stated.

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