by Steven Ertelt
February 27, 2007
San Francisco, CA (LifeNews.com) — A California state appeals court has upheld the legality of the state’s multibillion dollar embryonic stem cell research program. It said the statewide ballot proposal and committee it created were legal despite a lawsuit from pro-life and consumer groups saying the panel doesn’t abide by all state laws.
In 2004, California voters signed off on Proposition 71 to borrow $3 billion to finance embryonic stem cell research and human cloning projects.
It created the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, but two consumer groups filed a lawsuit against it saying it does not have proper oversight from the state on spending its monies, as required by the state constitution.
They also contend the members of the committee were chosen on the basis of their affiliations with certain institutions, not on the basis of their personal qualifications.
But, the 1st District Court of Appeal validated a state judge’s ruling saying the panel is okay.
"Proposition 71 suffers from no constitutional or other legal infirmity,” the court said in a unanimous 3-0 decision.
The California Family Bioethics Council, a project of the California Family Council, the People’s Advocate and the National Tax Limitation Foundation both filed suits.
During the hearing, David Llewellyn, a lawyer for the California Family Bioethics Council, argued that the proposition also violated a constitutional rule that ballot proposals have just one subject.
But Justice Stuart Pollak and Justice Peter Siggins seemed to think Prop. 71 didn’t run afoul of that requirement.
Backers of the lawsuit told the Associated Press they disagreed with the ruling.
"It’s so obvious that there are conflicts of interest between those who are responsible for distributing funding and those who receive the funds,” said Robert Tyler, an attorney for Advocates of Faith and Freedom, who supported the plaintiffs.
The groups said they would appeal the decision to the California Supreme Court, which likely wouldn’t hand down a ruling until sometime in 2008.
State Controller John Chiang issued a statement following the ruling saying it would allow CIRM to move "one step closer" to issuing bonds paying for the bioresearch projects. The lawsuit has held up sale of the bonds because they would be worthless if the court ruled the panel was illegitimate.
The case is California Family Bioethics Council v. California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, A114195.