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Minor movement on US stem cell legal challenge

Plaintiffs challenging the US government’s funding of human embryonic stem cell research today asked the judge now considering their case for a chance to make additional arguments to him in writing.

Adult stem cell researchers James Sherley and Theresa Deisher today submitted this request to Judge Royce Lamberth of the US District Court for the District of Columbia. Lamberth is considering their request for summary judgment in Sherley v. Sebelius.

A higher court 11 days ago found that Deisher and Sherley are unlikely to prevail on the merits of the case, and overturned a preliminary injunction issued by Lamberth last August. It is now up to Lamberth to rule on the merits of the case; both sides have asked him to do so speediliy.

In light of the April 29 decision by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Sherley and Deisher ask for a chance to submit a 10-page, supplemental, brief to Lamberth by June 3.

Their attorneys write in the petition: “A divided panel of the D.C. Circuit filed an opinion and judgment that vacated the preliminary injunction but expressly left numerous issues unresolved…. The supplemental briefs would aid the Court” in considering both sides’ request for speedy judgement, they add.

They suggest to Lamberth that the government be allowed to respond to their supplemental brief in ten written pages by June 24, and that they have a chance to rebut the government’s arguments once more in a 5-page reply to be submitted by July 6.

The government is not interested, apparently. “Defendants oppose this Motion because they feel it is unnecessary,” the petition notes.

Watch this space for an update when Lamberth rules on the request.

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