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California appeals court upholds stem cell research program

[JURIST] A California state appeals court ruled [opinion, PDF] Monday that the state's stem cell research [JURIST news archive] program "suffers from no constitutional or other legal infirmity," leading the way for approximately $3 billion in grant money to be awarded to researchers. The Court of Appeal of the State of California First District upheld last year's lower court decision [JURIST report] upholding the constitutionality of the program, operated by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) [official website]. The lower court determined that the stem cell program was being administered with sufficient state control and did not violate ballot initiative or conflicts of interest rules.

The research program, known as Proposition 71 [CA AG summary, PDF], was approved [JURIST report] in a 2004 state referendum by a 59 percent margin. In its ruling, the appeals court noted the delay in research that the litigation had caused:

The objective of the proposition is to find, "as speedily as possible," therapies for the treatment and cure of major diseases and injuries, an aim the legitimacy of which no one disputes. The very pendency of this litigation, however, has interfered with implementation for more than two years.
The lawsuit against the program [JURIST report] was brought by the California Family Bioethics Council and two anti-tax organizations - the People's Advocate and the National Tax Limitation Foundation [advocacy websites]. A lawyer for the plaintiffs said they would consider an appeal after reviewing the court's opinion, admitting that the California Supreme Court [official website] refuses to hear many appeals. The New York Times has more.

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