by Steven Ertelt
March 23, 2005
Sacramento, CA (LifeNews.com) — The California Supreme Court on Wednesday turned back challenges to the state’s new panel created by Proposition 71 to make grants to researchers conducting human cloning and embryonic stem cell research. They ruled the case should go to lower courts first.
The lawsuits sought to prevent the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine from distributing any of the funds under the $6 billion plan.
The state’s high court, in a unanimous ruling, told the two groups filing challenges to file their cases in California Superior Courts instead.
David Llewellyn, an attorney for Californians for Public Accountability and Ethical Science, a new group crated to take on the panel, told the Bay City News that it is "highly likely we will file an action" in the lower courts.
The group challenged the panel citing violation of conflict of interest laws because some of the committee’s members are associated with research universities or biotech firms that stand to profit from the grants.
In the lawsuit, the group also said Proposition 71 violated state statutes which require state ballot proposals to cover only one subject.
The lawsuits could have the effect of stopping the grants.
Agency officials and California Attorney General Bill Lockyer confirmed that the agency could not sell bonds to fund the grants while they were at the Supreme Court level. Filed with lower courts, they were unsure whether the grants would be blocked while the litigation proceeds.
The pro-life law firm Life Legal Defense Foundation filed the second lawsuit on behalf of the National Tax Limitation Foundation, a taxpayers group.
That legal challenge said the panel was illegal created because it is not subject to any oversight by the state legislature. Such oversight is needed when distributing state funds.
The stem cell panel is currently deciding on various proposals form California cities to house its state headquarters. San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, San Diego and Los Angeles are among the cities competing.
Llewellyn, the Sacramento attorney representing the plaintiffs, says Dr. Vincent Fortanasce, who was president of the "No on 71" campaign, and Joni Eareckson Tada, a pro-life paraplegic, are behind the CPAES group and lawsuit.
"People need to get the message that this proposition is an enormous expenditure of money in a financially strapped state for human embryo research that is increasingly seen as problematic and hypothetical," Tada said in a statement about the suit.
Related web sites:
Life Legal Defense Foundation – https://www.lldf.org