Stem Cell Ruling: Who Is This Judge?

Jeanne Sager

royce lamberthStem cell researchers who celebrated when President Barack Obama authorized significant expansion in the field are back at square one today.

A federal judge determined the 54 additional lines of embryonic stem cell research approved by the Obama administration lead to the destruction of the human embryos.

And as Judge Royce Lamberth said in his ruling (via the AP), "As demonstrated by the plain language of the statute, the unambiguous intent of Congress is to prohibit the expenditure of federal funds on 'research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed ... '

"The question before the court is whether ESC research is research in which a human embryo is destroyed. The court concludes that it is."

While the National Institutes of Health and researchers scramble to fight Lamberth's ruling, they'd be wise to look at whom they're dealing with.

Lamberth was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to his post as United States District Judge back in 1987. 

But his rulings are peppered by a mistrust of the government -- especially the executive branch:

1. Authorizing warrants from his cell phone in D.C. immediately after the attack on the Pentagon in 2001, Lamberth was a vocal critic of the Bush administration's decision to authorize warrantless wire tapping of suspected terrorists. His exact words at the time? "What we have found in the history of our country is that you can't trust the executive."

2. Lamberth was removed from the landmark Cobell v. Kempthorne case, in which Native Americans sued the federal government -- specifically the Department of the Interior -- for mismanagement of Indian Trust Funds. Lamberth was accused of not being objective as he sided again and again with the Native Americans, once calling the Interior a "pathetic outpost." Said Lamberth, "This case serves as an appalling reminder of the evils that result when large numbers of the politically powerless are placed at the mercy of institutions engendered and controlled by a politically powerful few."

3. During the Clinton administration, Lamberth earned the conservatives' praise for taking a hard-nosed approach to everything the Clintons did, once accusing the former president of criminal behavior and asking the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia to investigate the president's alleged violation of the Privacy Act.

Lamberth is a Republican, but he's equal opportunity about who he'll take down.


Image via Wikimedia Commons

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