by Steven Ertelt
November 18, 2005
Sacramento, CA (LifeNews.com) — A California judge will not likely dismiss two lawsuits filed by pro-life and taxpayer advocates against Proposition 71, the measure that California voters approved allowing $6 billion in taxpayer funds for embryonic stem cell research.
Superior Court Judge Bonnie Lewman Sabraw listened to two hours worth of arguments from both sides about whether the initiative violates conflict of interest standards and public ethics rules set up by state law.
Judge Sabraw said she would rule on the challenges at a later date.
Lawyers for the stem cell research panel set up under the state measure told the San Diego Union Tribune newspaper that Sabraw will likely allow the legal challenges to move forward.
If the cases are not thrown out, the stem cell panel will not be able to issue its first round of grants because it won’t be able to obtain bond funding. If the groups win their challenge in court, the bonds would be worthless. Even if Sabraw rules in their favor, the legal challenges will likely head to a state appeals court.
The two lawsuits say the panel shouldn’t be allowed to disburse the funds because there is no oversight from state officials, as is required under state law.
Tamar Pachter, a deputy attorney general, asked the judge to toss the lawsuits.
But David Llewellyn, an attorney for a bioethics watchdog group, said "conflict of interest is built into the selection process" because some of the members of the panel stand to benefit from the grants it would fund.
California Family Bioethics Council, People’s Advocate and the National Tax Limitation Foundation brought the two lawsuits against the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine.
A $3 million loan from the state and a $5 million gift from audio magnate Thomas Dolby have kept the stem cell research agency afloat while the lawsuits continue. The agency awarded a small round of 16 grants totally just under $40 million to universities to set up training programs on stem cell research.
Real estate magnate Robert Klein said after the court hearings that he’s trying to arrange $50 million more in temporary funding for the agency.