High court weighs dispute over AIDS funding

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is wrestling with the First Amendment implications of a policy that forces private health organizations to denounce prostitution as a condition to get AIDS funding.

The court appeared divided, and not along ideological lines, Monday in an argument over whether the anti-prostitution pledge violates the health groups' constitutional rights.

Four organizations that work in Africa, Asia and South America are challenging the 2003 law. They say their work has nothing to do with prostitution.

The Obama administration says it is reasonable for the government to give money only to groups that oppose prostitution and sex trafficking because they contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS.

A federal appeals court struck down the pledge as an unacceptable intrusion on the groups' right to speak freely.

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