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Court upholds stem cell institute

February 27, 2007|From a Times Staff Writer

A state appeals court upheld the constitutionality of California's voter-created stem cell institute Monday, decisively affirming a lower court decision less than two weeks after hearing oral arguments in the case.

Robert Klein, chairman of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine's oversight committee and the author of the original initiative, said he believed the court's decision would probably clear the way for the sale of bonds and full funding of the $3 billion earmarked for stem cell research by voters in 2004.

"Let me tell you it doesn't get much better than that -- when the court is making certain that it's 'jealously guarding' the initiative's power," Klein said of the 58-page opinion. "This decision will help us a great deal in trying to achieve our objective of having the Supreme Court refuse to hear an appeal."

The institute approved 72 research grants totaling $45 million earlier this month, using a state loan arranged by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Plaintiffs in the consolidated lawsuits -- People's Advocate, National Tax Limitation Foundation and California Family Bioethics Council -- may appeal to the state Supreme Court.

"We're going to read the decision carefully, and then we'll consult with our clients," said Dana Cody, executive director of Life Legal Defense Foundation, which represents two of the groups that sued. "Chances are we probably will" appeal.

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