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Opening Statements in Stem Cell Case Set to Begin

Written by on Monday, February 27th, 2006

Arguments in the trial addressing the constitutionality of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (“CIRM”) are set to begin on Monday, February 27, 2006 in an Alameda County Courtroom. The trial is expected to last about two weeks.

According to InsideBayArea, Plaintiffs, who include the People’s Advocate, the National Tax Limitation Foundation, and the California Family Bioethics Council, will argue that the committee is unconstitutional because the group operates outside of the exclusive management control of the state, since members of the committee serve terms longer than those who appoint them–six to eight years–and cannot be removed except under extreme circumstances by the state attorney general, such as committing a felony.

InsideBayArea reports that Nicole Pagano, spokewoman for the CIRM, argued in an email that the committee is accountable by the fact that most members are appointed by elected state officials and that they are subject to an annual financial audit to be reviewed by the state controller.

Paul Elias of the Associated Press wrote in an article today titled “$3 Billion California Stem Cell Agency Fights for Life in Court” :

The future of embroynic stem cell research could be shaped in a sleepy suburban courtroom where two taxypayer groups are challenging the legality of California’s new agency dedicated to the controversial field. . . .

Even some of the agency’s harshest critics believe the institute will prevail. Recent actions such as ensuring the state will share any potential profits gleaned from state grants, show it is starting to function as a government agency.

Californians in all walks of life will be watching this trial closely to see what the fate will ultimately be of California’s CIRM. While there seems to be a consensus throughout the state that government needs to be accountable to the people on the CIRM as well as other issues, the voters who said yes to Proposition 71, which created the CIRM, are definitely starting to be concerned that the CIRM will never be the successful institution that was originally promised to California. The outcome of this trial will likely signal the fate of both the CIRM and stem cell research in California.

For more information on the Proposition 71 controversy, you should check out the California Stem Cell Report, which has been reporting on the controversy extensively. The authors promise to be in attendance at the trial and say that they will file a report at least by early evening on Monday, perhaps sooner, depending on time constraints and Internet accessibility. We look forward to hear what they have to report on tomorrow’s proceedings.

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