by Chris Bodenner
Russell Korobkin wades through the details of yesterday's "shocking" court ruling on stem-cell research:
Judge Lamberth surprisingly interpreted Dickey-Wicker to prevent the use of tax dollars to support researchers who do any work using hESC lines as an input. One might at least plausibly argue for this result based on the principle that underlies Dickey-Wicker: that is, if Congress’ goal is to avoid dirtying the federal government’s hands with complicity in the destruction of embryos, perhaps research that relies on embryo destruction somewhere upstream should be ineligible for funding. But Lamberth claims that his result is supported by the unambiguous language of the Amendment. I find this argument utterly unconvincing.
This ruling is certainly a disaster for the Obama administration. They have already announced their intention to appeal, and if my own experience in the USDOJ Civil Division’s Appellate Staff (who presumably is handling this case) is any guide, the request for a stay will be filed first with Lamberth, and then a request for an emergency stay with D.C. Circuit by tomorrow at the latest. This is a disaster for the Obama administration, in part, because even though more and more Americans support ESC research, heading into the November mid-term elections this is not the topic they want to dominate their media time. Just when the President seemed ably reclaiming message time from the BP disaster, this threatens to again dominate political discourse for a week.
The decision is also a disaster for ESC researchers, who depend not only on this funding stream, but certainty about the rules under which they play. Judge Lamberth is a very able judge, but has also been somewhat aggressive in his injunction practice over the last few years and has had a series of (in my biased view) overreaching injunctions stayed and overturned by the D.C. Circuit.
Liberal activist judges strike again.