Friday, July 29, 2011

Legal Prognostication: Challenge to NIH Stem Cell Funding to End in 2013

A Stanford law professor is predicting that the legal fulminations about federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research will be resolved in 2013 in favor of the NIH.

That "best guess" comes from Hank Greely, who has been pondering stem cell legal issues for a number of years.

Writing on the Law and Biosciences Blog on the Stanford Law School web site, Greely issued the usual legal caveats and then said,
"But my best guess is that, sometime in 2013, the Supreme Court denies cert in this case and this question mark over human embryonic stem cell research funding is ended – though there may certainly be other questions raised between now and then.

"It is tempting to say 'all’s well that ends well.'  The judiciary seems to be headed to making a decision in this matter that is both (in my view) clearly legally correct and good policy.  But those who have suffered from the last 11 months of scrambling, uncertainty, and expense might have a different view.  It is one of the costs of our system of government – happily, in this case, so far, not a terribly high cost."
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1 comment:

  1. Jim Fossett11:02 AM

    Various aspects of this case has been bouncing back and forth between various levels of the federal legal system for a couple of years now, and Greely's done an excellent job of laying out the legal maneuvering for non-lawyers.
    A couple of things should be underlined. First, this wasn't and isn't a trivial case--if the plaintiffs prevail on the merits, the federal government will be more or less completely out of the embryonic stem cell research business. So the stakes are high. Second, as Greely notes, this case isn't over and could take another couple of years to finally resolve. NIH could lose at any stage. This isn't likely, as Greely notes, but still possible. Third, this almost certainly isn't the last legal or political challenge to federal stem cell funding. The groups that brought the case are well funded, and can be relied on to look for other ways to shut the federal program down.