Appeals Court Lifts Ban On Federal Funding Of Stem Cell Research

The latest round in the legal battle over federal funding of embryonic stem cell research hands a victory to the scientific community:

WASHINGTON—A federal appeals court ruled Friday that the federal government can continue to fund research involving human embryonic stem cells, a significant legal victory for the Obama administration.

The divided ruling, by the U.S Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, overturned a trial judge’s surprise ruling in 2010 that barred funding for the research.

The appeals court, in a 21-page decision, said the National Institutes of Health reasonably concluded that government funding for embryonic stem-cell research isn’t prohibited by a 1996 law that bars the use of federal money for research in which an embryo is destroyed.

The court’s majority also agreed with the Obama administration’s arguments that barring the funding would be a substantial blow to embryonic stem-cell research by blocking new projects and undermining existing ones.

The court said researchers’ “investments in project planning would be a loss, their expenditures for equipment a waste, and their staffs out of a job.”

(…)

Friday’s ruling is the latest chapter in a case that has made headlines since August 2010 when U.S. Chief District Court Judge Royce Lamberth in Washington issued a preliminary injunction that halted government funding for the research.

Judge Lamberth had rejected the Obama administration’s argument that embryonic stem-cell research itself didn’t result in the destruction of embryos.

I’m nowhere near being familiar enough with the legal issues in this case to be able to comment on them, but I thought it was interesting that the lawsuit that started this battle wasn’t brought by pro-life activists, which is what you might have expected:

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, scientists James Sherley and Theresa Deisher, contended that Mr. Obama’s loosening of embryonic stem-cell funding rules had unfairly diverted money away from adult stem-cell research, their specialty.

So basically it was one group of scientists fighting with another group of scientists.

No word yet on whether this case is likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court.

 

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Quick Takes, Science & Technology, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed for too young in July 2021.

Comments

  1. Jay Caruso says:

    Well then wouldn’t it be more accurate to say, “…hands a victory to one side of the scientific community”?

  2. michael reynolds says:

    Scientists fighting each other in court? What the hell? Where are the death rays? Where are the genetically-modified killer bats? Where’s the robot?

    Just answer me that: where is the robot?

  3. Neil Hudelson says:

    Michael,

    1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
    2. A robot must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
    3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

    Obviously Robots could not be used in a scientific fight if that fight were to in any way mean that humans could be harmed. At most, Robots could be used as body guards fulfilling the first law, however it is more likely that a Robot with any 2nd generation positronic brain (or later) would disarm both scientists of any sort of death ray or killer organism.

    That is, of course, only positing that the fight between the scientists is one of petty issues. If the robots were to decide that embryonic stem cell research is either the salvation of humanity (thus siding with those scientists) or the doom of humanity (thus siding with the adult stem cell scientists), then the Zeroth law would take effect:

    0. A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.

    Which technically means robots could harm a human if doing so was the only way to stop humanity itself from being harmed.

    Duh.

  4. ej says:

    “So basically it was one group of scientists fighting with another group of scientists.”

    So really this was just two different interest groups fighting a rent seeking battle?

  5. michael reynolds says:

    Neil:

    I have a seven word riposte:

    “Open the pod bay doors HAL.”

  6. michael reynolds says:

    OK, six.

  7. mattb says:

    Well, if one is really pedantic, HAL was an AI but technically not a Robot in the I Robot sense.

    Or you can just argue that Asimov didn’t account for the Frink Chaos Theory:

    Frink: You’ve got to listen to me. Elementary chaos theory tells us that all robots will eventually turn against their masters and run amok in an orgy of blood and the kicking and the biting with the metal teeth and the hurting and shoving.
    Scientist: How much time do we have professor?
    Frink: Well according to my calculations, the robots won’t go berserk for at least 24 hours.
    (The robots go berserk.)
    Frink: Oh, I forgot to er, carry the one.

    Or you can just watch it starting at 17:20 here: http://www.megavideo.com/?v=AIPJC2GF

  8. G.A.Phillips says:

    The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, scientists James Sherley and Theresa Deisher, contended that Mr. Obama’s loosening of embryonic stem-cell funding rules had unfairly diverted money away from adult stem-cell research, their specialty.

    ,the kind that works and isn’t evil.

    Fixed that, for,um,somebody:)

  9. Tano says:

    So basically it was one group of scientists fighting with another group of scientists.

    Fer chrissakes Doug, it is so damn infuriating sometimes how lazy you are. What would it take – like 30 seconds to go to Mr. Google and actually dredge up some value to add to this issue? No, the WSJ says something, and you just transcribe it.

    One of the first resutls you get is from a Catholic newsletter that excerpts and links to a profile about one of the “scientists”:


    “The Crusader: Theresa Deisher once shunned religion for science. Now, with renewed faith, she is fighting human-embryonic-stem-cell research in court

    Three years ago, she founded a tiny, privately held Seattle firm called AVM Biotechnology — the name is a loose abbreviation for ‘Ave Maria’ — which is dedicated to hastening adult-stem-cell therapies to the market, and to developing alternatives to vaccines and therapeutics made using cell lines from aborted fetuses. She has also launched a non-profit group, the Sound Choice Pharmaceutical Institute, which among other things is investigating, as she puts it, “the potential link between human DNA in childhood vaccines and autism”.

    One of the quotes from the linked article :

    “She’s kind of the Sarah
    Palin of stem cells.”

    No Doug, this is not a simple dispute between two groups of scientists fighting over research money. It is part of the religious crusade by prolifers, as anyone with at least half a brain would have suspected, and at least spent a minute checking out before posting about it.