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California court dismisses stem cell lawsuits

29 March 2005
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 301

The California Supreme Court has thrown out two lawsuits that sought to get rid of the state's $3 billion stem cell research funding initiative. The high court refused to hear the cases, but said that its ruling won't prevent the lawsuits from being filed again, in a trial court. Both lawsuits sought to invalidate Proposition 71, approved by Californian voters last November. Meanwhile, the Maryland House of Delegates approved legislation yesterday that would provide $25 million of state funding annually for human embryonic stem cell (ES cell) research.

Proposition 71 was approved by 59 per cent of Californians, allowing the state to break away from federal restrictions on human ES cell research. A policy put in place by President Bush on 9 August 2001 prevents federal funds being spent on research on ES cells created after that date. However, earlier this year, two groups began legal action seeking to invalidate the measure. A 'politically conservative public interest group', called Californians for Public Accountability and Ethical Science (CPAES), said that provisions in Proposition 71, which exempt members of the newly-created California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) from some government conflict-of-interest laws, are illegal and unconstitutional. The group also contended that the ballot in which Proposition 71 was passed violated the state's laws, which require each proposition to be based on a single subject.

CIRM is governed by the Independent Citizen's Oversight Committee, which has 29 appointed members, including five appointed by state Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The 29 members are in charge of awarding CIRM's research grants, loans and contracts. The second lawsuit, brought by the pro-life lawyers' group Life Legal Defence Foundation, argued that the California Constitution makes it clear that taxpayers' money must be under the exclusive management and control of the state. It said that the way the new initiative is set up violates that requirement.

The Supreme Court rejected both cases last week, but lawyers representing both groups have said they will probably re-file. David Llewellyn, of CPAES, said that it was 'highly likely', that some form of action will now be brought in a lower court. Bob Klein, chairman of the Oversight Committee, said: 'We would have preferred the Californian Supreme Court to rule on this litigation, but the Institute will now consider its options and take prompt action'.

The Maryland House of Delegates has approved legislation that would also provide state funding for human ES research to get around the federal funding ban. The bill, which was approved by 81 votes to 53, will now go to the state Senate, where it has been approved by one committee but is awaiting a vote in a second committee. It would set aside part of the money Maryland gets from tobacco companies for ES cell research using embryos left over from fertility treatments. The Maryland bill follows other state bills - from New Jersey, Wisconsin and Illinois - which will provide state funding for ES cell research, hoping to stave off a 'brain drain' of researchers to California.

Calif. court tosses stem cell lawsuits
Seattle Post-Intelligencer |  23 March 2005
Calif. High Court Dismisses Stem Cell Challenge
Yahoo Daily News |  23 March 2005
Md. House Passes Stem Cell Bill
The Washington Post |  28 March 2005
22 May 2007 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
California's stem cell programme is now free to start distributing its $3 billion funding to researchers, following the refusal of the state's Supreme Court to consider another legal challenge. The high court upheld last year's ruling by a lower court, which upheld the constitutionality of the...
2 October 2006 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
The Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed into law a bill that prevents both private and state-funded laboratories from paying women to donate eggs for human embryonic stem (ES) cell research. The Reproductive Health and Research Bill (SB1260), sponsored by state Senators Deborah Ortiz and...
5 December 2005 - by BioNews 
Lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the US state of California's stem cell programme have been knocked back by a judge at Almeda County Superior Court. Judge Bonnie Lewman Sabraw has ruled that the legal arguments relied upon by opponents of the stem cell programme do not stand up, meaning that...
21 November 2005 - by BioNews 
The state Senate of Ohio has approved legislation that would limit the use of state funds for 'therapeutic' cloning and human embryonic stem (ES) cell research. It would also prevent people in the state benefiting from therapies developed in other states or countries that had been developed using cloning techniques...
4 April 2005 - by BioNews 
Legislation authorising research on human embryonic stem (ES) cells was passed by both the Massachusetts Senate and House of Representatives last week. The state Senate approved the bill by an overwhelming 35-2 votes on Wednesday, then the state House approved its version by 117-37 votes the following day...
28 February 2005 - by BioNews 
Two groups in California have begun a legal action seeking to invalidate Proposition 71, the $3 billion dollar stem cell research funding initiative approved by voters in the state last November. The November ballot, in which 59 per cent of Californians voted in favour of state funding for human embryonic...
20 December 2004 - by BioNews 
The first chairman has been appointed to oversee the newly created Californian Institute for Regenerative Medicine, it was reported last week. Robert N Klein, a real estate developer, was also one of the brains behind Proposition 71, the bill passed on 2 November that allowed California to break away from...
4 November 2004 - by BioNews 
Voters in the US state of California have passed Proposition 71, a bill also known as the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative. Fifty-nine per cent of people voted in favour, with 41 per cent voting against the measure, which will establish California as the first state to publicly...
20 October 2004 - by BioNews 
Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Republican governor of California, has formally endorsed a bill that, if passed, would provide $3 billion of funding for embryonic stem (ES) cell research in the state over the next ten years. The bill, known as proposition 71, or the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative...
16 August 2004 - by BioNews 
Voters in California are said to be 'evenly divided' over a bill that would provide the state with $3 billion of funding for human embryonic stem (ES) cell research. Known as Proposition 71, or the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative, the bill will be part of the 2...
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