Blog Post

Judge Denies Motion to Lift Injunction on Stem Cell Research

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Journalist The Obama Administration received another stinging rebuke from the federal judge who put a halt to embryonic stem cell research two weeks when he denied a motion by White House lawyers to allow research to continue until the issue is decided. According to the Washington Post, Royce C. Lamberth, chief U.S. district judge for the District of Columbia refused to lift an injunction that would have allowed funding of embryonic research to continue pending an appeal. Lamberth ruled on Aug. 23 that President Obama's executive order overturning restrictions on the research imposed by former President George W. Bush violated a federal law that bars the use of taxpayer funds for any research that involves the destruction of human embryos. White House lawyers argued that Lamberth’s decision would do irreparable harm to research already underway and would also stop research funding authorized under the Bush administration of embryonic stem cell lines already created. Lamberth disagreed. "Defendants are incorrect about much of their 'parade of horribles' that will supposedly result from this Court’s preliminary injunction," he wrote in his ruling. "Plaintiffs agree that this Court’s order does not even address the Bush administration guidelines… The prior guidelines, of course, allowed research only on existing stem cell lines, foreclosing additional destruction of embryos. Plaintiffs also agree that projects previously awarded and funded are not affected by this Court’s order…." He goes on to say that in the view of his court, "a stay would flout the will of Congress" which enacted the Dickey-Wicker Amendment. "Congress remains perfectly free to amend or revise the statute. This Court is not free to do so." He added: "Congress has mandated that the public interest is served by preventing taxpayer funding of research that entails the destruction of human embryos. It is well-established that “[i]t is in the public interest for courts to carry out the will of Congress and for an agency to implement properly the statute it administers.” Proponents of embryonic stem cell research were disappointed by Lamberth's most recent decision. Lisa Hughes, president of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR), a group that has led lobbying efforts for greater stem cell funding, issued the following statement: "We are disappointed with today's Order to deny the NIH's Emergency Motion To Stay Preliminary Injunction Pending Appeal issued by Judge Lamberth. CAMR's primary goal is to permanently restore embryonic stem cell research freedom as it existed before August 23, 2010. We look forward to NIH's guidance on how best to interpret today's order." Opponents of the research applauded the decision, citing the immorality of the research and the fact that more promising advances are being made in the area of adult and pluri-potent stem cells. The Justice Departmentis expected to appeal Lamberth's decision, but if it is upheld, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will be forced to suspend $54 million in financing for 22 scientific projects by the end of September, the New York Times reports, with an additional 60 projects also threatened. They report that in 2009, the health institutes spent $143 million to underwrite more than 330 scientific projects using human embryonic stem cells, and it estimated that it would spend another $137 million in this fiscal year, which ends in September. The NIH refused to comment on Lamberth's decision and a Justice Department spokesman said the government is still reviewing it. © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®