A federal judge in Washington this afternoon denied a request from the U.S. Justice Department to stay a ruling that temporarily blocks funding for human embryonic stem cell research.
DOJ lawyers had asked Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to stay the preliminary injunction the judge issued last month. Government lawyers are appealing the ruling and could ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to issue an administrative stay.
Last week, DOJ attorneys said in court papers that the preliminary injunction threatens millions of dollars of research at the National Institutes of Health. The preliminary injunction was a blow to the Obama administration, which in March 2009 removed restrictions on funding on human embryonic stem cells.
Lamberth said today in a three-page order the “defendants are incorrect about much of their ‘parade of horribles’ that will supposedly result from this Court’s preliminary injunction." The judge said his order “does not even address the Bush administration’s guidelines, or whether NIH could return to those guidelines. The prior guidelines, of course, allowed research only on existing stem cell lines, foreclosing additional destruction of embryos.”
A stay, Lamberth said, “would flout the will of Congress.” Congress, the judge wrote, “has mandated that the public interest is served by preventing taxpayer funding of research that entails the destruction of human embryos.”