OCTOBER TERM, 2000
certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the second circuit
No. 99-603. Argued October 4, 2000—Decided February 28, 2001*
The Legal Services Corporation Act authorizes petitioner Legal Services
Corporation (LSC) to distribute funds appropriated by Congress to local grantee organizations providing free legal assistance to indigent clients in, inter alia, welfare benefits claims. In every annual appropriations Act since 1996, Congress has prohibited LSC funding of any organization that represented clients in an effort to amend or otherwise challenge existing welfare law. Grantees cannot continue representation in a welfare matter even where a constitutional or statutory validity challenge becomes apparent after representation is well under way. Respondents—lawyers employed by LSC grantees, together with others— filed suit to declare, inter alia, the restriction invalid. The District Court denied them a preliminary injunction, but the Second Circuit invalidated the restriction, finding it impermissible viewpoint discrimination that violated the First Amendment.
Held: The funding restriction violates the First Amendment.
(a) LSC and the Government, also a petitioner, claim that Rust v. Sullivan, 500 U. S. 173, in which this Court upheld a restriction prohibiting doctors employed by federally funded family planning clinics from discussing abortion with their patients, supports the restriction here. However, the Court has since explained that the Rust counseling activities amounted to governmental speech, sustaining viewpoint-based funding decisions in instances in which the government is itself the speaker, see Board of Regents of Univ. of Wis. System v. Southworth, 529 U. S. 217, 229, 235, or instances, like Rust, in which the government uses private speakers to transmit information pertaining to its own program, Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of Univ. of Va., 515 U. S. 819, 833. Although the government has the latitude to ensure that its own message is being delivered, neither that latitude nor its rationale applies to subsidies for private speech in every instance. Like the Rosenberger
*Together with No. 99-960, United States v. Velazquez et al., also on certiorari to the same court.
533Page: Index 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Next
Last modified: October 4, 2007