Court Ends Suit on Embryonic Stem Cell Research Policy

The lawsuit seeking to overturn the Obama administration’s policy on embryonic stem cell research has now been dismissed — by the same federal judge who ruled last year that the policy was illegal.

Citing an appeals court decision in April, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth said in an order issued Wednesday that he had no choice but to rule in the administration’s favor.

Last August, in a suit brought by two researchers opposed to human embryonic stem cell research, Lamberth had ruled that the administration’s policy violated the so-called Dickey-Wicker amendment.

Enacted by Congress in 1996, the amendment prohibits use of federal funds for research that destroys human embryos.

Lamberth ordered a halt to federal funding of embryonic stem cell research freed up by the administration’s policy, issued shortly after President Obama took office, which took down many of the restrictions put in place by President George W. Bush.

But the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia decided that Lamberth’s interpretation of the law was too narrow and that the Obama administration’s policy would probably withstand challenge when the law was read correctly.