Lawyers for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine on Wednesday asked the First District Court of Appeals in San Francisco to expedite the review of two lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of California's Proposition 71 -- approved by voters in 2004 to provide $3 billion for embryonic stem cell research -- the San Jose Mercury News reports (Johnson, San Jose Mercury News, 6/15). Two taxpayer groups and the California Family Bioethics Council in 2005 filed a lawsuit arguing that Proposition 71 violated the state constitution because it created a publicly funded agency that was not "under the exclusive management and control" of the state. California Superior Court Judge Bonnie Sabraw in April ruled that the plaintiffs failed to show the proposition "is clearly, positively and unmistakably unconstitutional," adding that CIRM and the Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee -- which are charged with implementing Proposition 71 -- "are operating in the same fashion as other state agencies" (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 4/25). According to the Mercury News, the plaintiffs appealed the ruling, claiming that CIRM lacks adequate state supervision. While the suits are pending, CIRM is unable to sell state bonds required to fund the program, institute officials said. CIRM Chair Robert Klein in a statement said, "The California Supreme Court has set a high standard for overturning initiatives, stating a measure must be clearly, presently, totally and fatally unconstitutional." He added,"This appeal will not be a successful tactic to destroy a democratic expression of the people." David Llewellyn, who represents the CFBC, said he thinks the plaintiffs have "very strong arguments." The plaintiffs' attorneys said they likely would not oppose an expedited review, unless they need more time to prepare their arguments, the Mercury News reports (San Jose Mercury News, 6/15).

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