WASHINGTON — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit decided Thursday to suspend a district court’s prohibition on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, allowing the Obama administration to continue with a policy that is in violation of federal law while the appellate court considers additional arguments over suspending the policy. The Alliance Defense Fund is co-counsel in a lawsuit against the policy, which the district court halted on Aug. 23.
“The American people should not be forced to pay for even one more day of experiments that destroy human life, have produced no real-world treatments, and violate an existing federal law,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Steven H. Aden. “The district court’s decision simply enforced that law, which prevents Americans from paying another penny for needless research on human embryos made irrelevant by adult stem cell and other research. In economic times like we are in now, it doesn’t make sense for the federal government to use precious taxpayer dollars for this illegal and unethical purpose.”
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia found last month that the policy President Obama attempted to institute through an executive order in March 2009--which rescinded former President George W. Bush’s executive order limiting federal funding of embryonic stem cell research--is likely in violation of the Dickey/Wicker Amendment, a federal law prohibiting the federal funding of research involving the destruction of human embryos. The district court issued a preliminary injunction that immediately halted funding.
Tuesday the district court denied a request for a stay of the injunction, saying, “Defendants are incorrect about much of their ‘parade of horribles’ that will supposedly result from this Court’s preliminary injunction…. In this Court’s view, a stay would flout the will of Congress, as this Court understands what Congress has enacted in the Dickey-Wicker Amendment…. Congress has mandated that the public interest is served by preventing taxpayer funding of research that entails the destruction of human embryos. It is well-established that ‘[i]t is in the public interest for courts to carry out the will of Congress and for an agency to implement properly the statute it administers.’”
The U.S. Department of Justice then filed a request for a stay with the D.C. Circuit. The court issued an order granting an administrative stay, carefully stating, “The purpose of this administrative stay is to give the court sufficient opportunity to consider the merits of the emergency motion for stay and should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits of that motion.” The D.C. Circuit reversed a dismissal of the lawsuit in June.
Samuel Casey of Advocates International is also co-counsel in the suit, Sherley v. Sebelius. Tom Hungar and Brad Lingo with Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher, LLC, argued the case in district court on behalf of doctors opposed to the administration’s policy, which authorized the National Institutes of Health to fund additional research projects that destroy human embryos.
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.