SAN FRANCISCO -- California's novel, $3 billion stem cell research institute is a legitimate state agency, and two lawsuits challenging its constitutionality have no merit, a state judge ruled yesterday.
The ruling came a month after a four-day trial in which lawyers with connections to antiabortion groups claimed the country's most ambitious stem cell research agency violated California law because it wasn't a true state agency and its managers had a host of conflicts of interest.
But Alameda County Superior Court Judge Bonnie Lewman Sabraw handed the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine an unambiguous victory, writing that the lawsuits failed to show the voter-approved law that created the agency in 2004 ''is clearly, positively, and unmistakably unconstitutional."
Lewman Sabraw's ruling becomes official in 10 days unless the losing attorneys present new and dramatically different arguments.
Proposition 71 was placed on the California ballot in November 2004 to counter President Bush's stem cell research policy, which severely restricts the amount of federal funding that can be used for the work opposed by many conservative Christian groups.