Supreme Court Declines hearing on Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding

“We ask you to join us in thanking Dr. Sherley and Dr. Deisher, who fought the good fight and courageously risked their careers to stand for the truth that every life is sacred and worthy of protection under our laws.”

Sherley, “We Can Find Common Ground”   January 8, 2013

  After three long years, a lawsuit to stop taxpayer-funding of embryonic stem cell research finally    hit a dead end today when the Supreme Court declined to take the case, Sherley v. Sebelius. Dr. James Sherley and Dr. Theresa Deisher, two adult stem cell scientists, brought the suit in 2009 to block the President’s decision to throw open the door to more embryonic stem cell funding. The administration’s expanded regulations, which paved the way for large-scale human embryo death, were put in place over the objections of pro-lifers who flooded the government website in opposition. (Later, the administration admitted to willfully ignoring over 30,000 comments of a total 49,000 it received about the guidelines).

A great many of those comments came from FRC supporters, and we thank you for speaking up for those who have no voice. Human embryonic stem cell research relies on the destruction of young humans, and it’s very likely that a great deal more human embryos will be destroyed in this research now. We ask you to join us in thanking Dr. Sherley and Dr. Deisher, who fought the good fight and courageously risked their careers to stand for the truth that every life is sacred and worthy of protection under our laws. We’re also grateful for their gutsy legal team–Tom Hungar of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Sam Casey of Law of Life Project, Steve Aden of Alliance Defending Freedom, and their colleagues, who gave this battle–and so many innocent lives–their absolute best.

While it’s a disappointing finish to this legal battle, you can rest assured that FRC will continue to speak out in defense of all human life.

In a second press release by The Jubilee Campaign Law of Life Project,  DC attorneys noted that:

The petition made two central arguments: first, that the D.C. Court of Appeals erred in holding that President Obama’s Executive Order issued in 2009 can and did excuse an agency’s failure to comply with the Administrative Procedure Act; and second, that that a preliminary injunction ruling is binding ‘law’ of the case. In declining to hear the case, the Supreme Court did not decide these questions, but did effectively end the case.

Sam Casey, JC-LOLP’s General Counsel who served as co-counsel for Petitioners in the case, described the implications of the Supreme Court’s ruling today saying:

“After almost four years of litigation the courts are apparently telling Congress that the Dickey-Wicker Amendment’s language isn’t plain enough to achieve its intentions. To fix this ‘ambiguity’ Congress at least will need to consider changing the phrase “research in which” to “research involving” and the phrase “are destroyed” to “are or have been destroyed.” Hopefully, Congress will do so, along with any other steps deemed necessary to once again make plainly unlawful the federal funding of destructive human embryo research which the record shows continues to be an unnecessary, unethical and a wasteful use of the federal taxpayer’s money.”

Petitioner adult stem cell researcher Theresa Deisher said:

“This lawsuit brought critical information into the public forum that had been suppressed by embryonic stem cell proponents. While the legal fight seems to have been lost for now, unless and until Congress acts to correct this waste of taxpayer funds, this case brought adult stem cells to the forefront of many scientists’ minds and contributed significantly to the adult stem cell progress and focus that many scientists and clinicians are following. Without this suit many of these scientists and clinicians might have traveled blindly down the embryonic and aborted fetal stem cell roads. Patients will benefit because we raised the issue and brought awareness to the importance of adult stem cells. Adult stem cells continue to be safe, effective and affordable while embryonic and aborted fetal stem cells therapies fail patients by their tumor forming capacity, exorbitant cost and moral harms.”

Casey concluded by saying:

“Sure we are disappointed that the Court declined to hear our clients’ case. Each time federal grant money is awarded to support human embryonic stem cell research, living human embryos are at risk. Not only is this an ethical tragedy, as well as a waste of taxpayers’ money on unethical research that has not to date led to any therapeutic benefits, but it is also a clear violation of what we believe Congress intended when it passed the current federal law known as the Dickey-Wicker Amendment. Sadly, the DC Circuit Court of Appeal found ambiguity in the statutory language that we continue to believe is not there. We also think that the President, by authorizing NIH non-compliance with federal law, overstepped his legal boundaries, and it is now imperative that Congress step in to clarify the law. The Constitution and the Supreme Court say Congress enacts the laws in this country, not the Executive Branch. Now that the Supreme Court has declined to hear our case, the matter necessarily returns to Congress who will have to decide whether to amend the Dicker-Wicker Amendment to make it even clearer for the courts that Congress does not want NIH expending federal taxpayer funds on unethical and unnecessary embryonic stem cell research that requires the destruction of living human embryos.”