Judge Rules Proposition 71 Is Not Unconstitutional; Declines To Dismiss Lawsuits
An Alameda County Superior Court judge on Tuesday declined to rule Proposition 71 unconstitutional but did not dismiss two lawsuits that have prevented the issuance of state bonds to fund stem cell research, the Los Angeles Times reports. State voters in November 2004 approved Proposition 71, which will provide $3 billion in state funding for stem cell research (Garvey, Los Angeles Times, 11/30).
Opponents of the proposition, including antiabortion and taxpayer groups, say it is unconstitutional because the taxpayer-funded bond revenue would be distributed without government oversight (Hall, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/30).
In the ruling, Judge Bonnie Sabraw wrote, "The Supreme Court has stated that it is the court's solemn duty to uphold an initiative, resolving all doubts in its favor, unless its unconstitutionality clearly, positively and unmistakable appears" (Somers, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/30). Sabraw wrote that plaintiffs in the cases -- People's Advocate, the National Tax Limitation Foundation and the California Family Bioethics Council -- have "not satisfied" that "substantial test."
However, Sabraw also denied requests that the cases be dismissed, writing that allegations could not be resolved "on the face of the pleadings or through consideration of judicially noticed matters" (Los Angeles Times, 11/30).
Sabraw ordered a hearing for Tuesday to set a trial date, adding that she plans to "proceed to trial promptly." However, lawyers for both sides said a trial might not start until spring (Johnson, San Jose Mercury News, 11/30).
Jennifer Lahl, national director of the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network, said lawyers had anticipated the possibility of defeat in the case but already have begun researching the possibility of filing other lawsuits, including in federal court (San Francisco Chronicle, 11/30).
Robert Klein, chair of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, said the ruling could encourage philanthropic organizations to lend money to the CIRM to begin grant distribution while the issue is being resolved (San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/30).