Monday, June 28, 2010

Appeals court reinstates lawsuit against Obama Administration over embryonic stem cell research:

"Illegal and unethical"

A federal appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit that challenges the Obama Administration's policy on embryonic stem cell research as a violation of U.S. law. 

On Friday, June 25, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Colombia Circuit issued a 12-page ruling reversing a decision by a U.S. District Court judge dismissing the case. 

Judge Royce Lamberth ruled on Oct. 27, 2009 that none of the plaintiffs in the case -- Sherley v. Sebelius -- had standing to sue the government. Nightlife Christian Adoptions, adult stem cell researchers Dr. James Sherley of the Boston Biomedical Research Institute and Dr. Theresa Deisher of AVM Biotechnology of Seattle, the Christian Medical Association, and "human embryos past and present" had sued U.S. Health and Human Services director Kathleen Sebelius and National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins over a March 9, 2009 decision by President Obama to lift a federal ban on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. 

Judge Lamberth said that none of the plaintiffs had the legal right to sue the government. The judge said, "embryos lack standing because they are not persons under the law," and that the unborn have no right to life protected by the 14th Amendment. But the appeals court reversed Lamberth, saying that two of the plaintiffs -- Sherley and Deisher – were legally entitled to file the suit. 

Among other things, the lawsuit alleges that the Obama Administration's policy violates the Dickey/Wicker Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds to destroy human embryos for research. 

"No one should be allowed to decide that an innocent life is worthless," said Alliance Defense Fund senior legal counsel Steven H. Aden in a statement issued following the appeals court ruling. "Although private-sector funding of embryonic stem cell research has been practically unlimited, it has failed to produce results. Furthermore, experimentation on embryonic stem cells isn't even necessary because adult stem cell research has been enormously successful. In these difficult economic times, why should the federal government use precious taxpayer dollars for this illegal and unethical purpose?" 

The Alliance Defense Fund serves as co-counsel on the case with Samuel Casey of Advocates International. Tom Hungar and Brad Lingo with the firm Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher LLC argued the case before the Circuit Court on April 12. 

The lawsuit alleges that the guidelines governing destructive embryonic stem cell research implemented by the Obama administration "were promulgated without observing the procedures required by law," said a June 25 news release from ADF. 

"We conclude the two Doctors have standing… The Dickey-Wicker Amendment clearly limits the funding of research involving human embryos. Because the Act can plausibly be interpreted to limit research involving ESCs [embryonic stem cells], the Doctors' interest in preventing the NIH from funding such research is not inconsistent with the purposes of the Amendment," said the appellate court decision reversing Judge Lamberth.