by Steven Ertelt
October 13, 2005
Sacramento, CA (LifeNews.com) — Several patient advocacy groups filed legal papers on Thursday saying lawsuits by those opposed to Proposition 71 should be dismissed. Pro-life and taxpayer groups have filed lawsuits saying the ballot proposal, which authorized $6 billion for embryonic stem cell research, created a committee that is unaccountable to voters.
The lawsuits also cite numerous conflicts of interest and violations of open meeting laws in setting it up to disburse the funds.
The patient groups say that passage of Prop. 71 reflects the will of California voters to use taxpayer funds for pay for embryonic stem cell research. The groups, many of which may be eligible for money from the measure, say the lawsuits have no merit.
The Burnham Institute, the Salk Research Institute, Stanford University and the University of Southern California are among those who are involved in the legal briefs.
The lawsuits say government officials should have oversight of the 29-member California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. One lawsuit, filed by the pro-life Life Legal Defense Foundation Life says the state Constitution requires public officials to oversee the expenditure of state dollars.
However, the patient groups and research institutions say the panel will disburse grants based on a merit system, which they claim is sufficient.
No funds have been distributed by the committee set up under the measure because of the lawsuits. The committee can’t sell bonds to finance the research grants until the lawsuits have been concluded because the bonds may be worthless if the suits succeed.
In August, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Bonnie Sabraw combined the two lawsuits.
The first was filed by People’s Advocate and the National Tax Limitation Foundation and the second was filed by LLDFL.