Brief Fact Summary. The Respondent, Sullivan (Respondent), instituted regulations that prohibited federal monies to be used to educate Medicaid recipients about abortion as a family planning option.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The government can selectively fund programs without violating the United States Constitution (Constitution), if it believes the funded programs encourage certain activities it believes are in the public interest.
Issue. Does this restriction violate the First Amendment of the Constitution by prohibiting certain content-based discussions from occurring?
Does the restriction condition the receipt of a benefit on the relinquishment of a constitutional right?
Held. No. The government may choose to fund one program at the exclusion of another. The legislature’s decision not to subsidize the exercise of a fundamental right, does not infringe upon the right.
No. The regulations do not require recipients to forfeit rights. Instead, they mandate that the activities be kept separate and distinct from the funded program.
This canon is followed out of respect for Congress, which we assume legislates in the light of constitutional limitations.View Full Point of Law