by Steven Ertelt
June 16, 2006
Sacramento, CA (LifeNews.com) — Lawyers for the California committee charged with spending billions of taxpayer dollars on embryonic stem cell research and human cloning asked an appeals court to speed up the resolution of two lawsuits filed against it. The lawsuits have prevented the committee from making the extensive grants they hoped to dole out for research projects.
Filed by the pro-life California Family Bioethics Council and the People’s Advocate and National Tax Limitation Foundation, two taxpayers groups, the lawsuits charge the committee with violating state laws.
They say the committee has not properly submitted itself to state oversight because it’s handing out state funds and that it has run afoul of state open meetings and conflict of interest laws.
In April, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Bonnie Sabraw sided with the committee and rejected the lawsuits. The groups appealed the decision to the 1st District Court of Appeals in San Francisco and their attorneys say they will go to the California Supreme Court if necessary.
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine wants an expedited decision in the lawsuits so it can begin selling the bonds needed to obtain the finances for the grants.
The institute has received from private grants — most notably from Thomas Dolby, the audio magnate — but the grants have mostly financed the committee’s budget and a few smaller grants for training graduate students in stem cell sciences.
The lawsuits were expected to go into 2007 as it normally takes a year to resolve an appeal, but a decision could be handed down later this year if the court agrees to expedite the case. The groups filing the lawsuit say they may not oppose the request to move forward more quickly.
"We want to see this resolved as well,” Dana Cody, a pro-life attorney who represents the People’s Advocate and the National Tax Limitation Foundation, told the San Jose Mercury News.
Robert Klein, the institute’s chairman who has come under fire recently for using his position to endorse a candidate in a competitive primary, said he thinks the court will side with the request to expedite.
"The California Supreme Court has set a high standard for overturning initiatives, stating a measure must be clearly, presently, totally and fatally unconstitutional,” Klein told the San Jose newspaper. "This appeal will not be a successful tactic to destroy a democratic expression of the people."
But David Llewellyn, who represents the California Family Bioethics Council, said he thinks the lawsuits will prevail, saying, "I think we have very strong arguments.”