Court lets stem cell funding continue
A federal appeals courts Tuesday ruled that the federal government can continue funding human embryonic stem cell research pending the outcome of a lawsuit challenging the Obama administration's new policies on the controversial field of science.
The decision stays a temporary injunction issued on Aug. 23 by Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court in Washington. Lamberth said the funding violated the Dickey-Wicker law, which bars federal funding of research that involves the destruction of human embryos.
The Obama administration appealed, and a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Sept. 9 temporarily lifted the injunction pending further consideration. The appeals court on Monday heard arguments about whether to leave the injunction lifted while the case is decided.
During Monday's hearing, Justice Department attorney Beth Brinkmann argued that the injunction would result in "irreparable harm" to the National Institutes of Health because researchers could lose crucial experiments and scientific materials. Brinkmann was met by skeptical questions from the judges. But Thomas Hunger, the lawyer who represented the researchers who filed the original suit, also faced tough questions, so it was unclear how the court would rule.
The decision Tuesday to issue a stay on the injunction means the NIH can continue funding the research as the original while the judge's order blocking the funding is appealed. The court also said it would expedite the case.
The decision was hailed by supporters of the research.
"President Obama made expansion of stem cell research and the pursuit of groundbreaking treatments and cures a top priority when he took office," said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs. "We're heartened that the court will allow NIH and their grantees to continue moving forward while the appeal is resolved."
Here's the text of Tuesday's ruling:
"Upon consideration of the government's emergency motion to stay preliminary
injunction pending appeal and for immediate administrative stay, the opposition thereto,
the reply, and the argument by counsel, it is ORDERED that the administrative stay entered September 9, 2010, be dissolved.
It is FURTHER ORDERED that the motion for stay pending appeal of the preliminary
injunction entered on August 23, 2010, be granted. Appellants have satisfied the
standards required for a stay pending appeal. See Metro. Area Transit Comm'n v. Holiday Tours, Inc., 559 F.2d 841, 843 (D.C. Cir. 1977); D.C. Circuit Handbook of Practice and Internal Procedures 32-33 (2010). It is FURTHER ORDERED, on the court's own motion, that consideration of this appeal be expedited. The parties will be notified by separate order of the briefing schedule and oral argument date."
| September 29, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Stem cells
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