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Rust v. Sullivan

Law Dictionary

Law Dictionary

Featuring Black's Law Dictionary 2nd Ed.
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Constitutional Law Keyed to Cohen

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 22 Ill.500 U.S. 173, 111 S. Ct. 1759, 114 L. Ed. 2d 233 (1991)

Brief Fact Summary. Grantees of Federal “family planning funds” and doctors who supervised the use of those funds brought suit, alleging infringement on their First Amendment constitutional rights when they sought to express viewpoints and engage in activities which were inconsistent with the designated use of the funds.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. The government may fund activities to the exclusion of others, without necessarily infringing on the rights of citizens to express their own views.

Facts. Title X of the Public Health Service Act (the Act) was enacted by Congress to provide federal funding for family-planning services. In 1988, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (the Secretary) outlined more specific guidance as to how the funds were to be used and that abortion was not to be considered a method of family planning, acceptable to the use of the funds. The Petitioners, Rust and others (Petitioners), brought suit, seeking injunctive relief against the implementation of the regulations, based on their First Amendment constitutional rights to political expression. They felt that the Act was unconstitutional because they suppressed their abilities to proscribe treatments, which aligned with their own political views. The District Court granted summary judgment for the Department of Health and Human Services and the Second Circuit Affirmed. The Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) granted certiorari.

Issue. The Court concerns itself with the question of whether, facially, the regulations as set forth by the Secretary, were authorized by the Act, and could be construed as applicable without infringing on the constitutional rights of others.
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