Undue Deference, Ctd.

by Ramesh Ponnuru

The dispute in the stem-cell case turns on whether a law that bars federal funding for research “in which” human embryos are destroyed merely bars funding for the act of destroying the human embryos or also bars funding for the research that depends on their destruction. For what it’s worth–and I don’t think it’s conclusive evidence of the law’s meaning, but it matters more than some bills that never became law–the sponsors of the legislation took the same view that Judge Lamberth did. What’s more, they made reasonable arguments for their interpretation.

They note, for example, that the legislation banned funding for both “the creation of a human embryo or embryos for research purposes” and “research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed.” If the intent had been as narrow as the Obama administration contends, they point out, the law would have simply used parallel wording, banning funding for “the destruction of a human embryo or embryos.”

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