A crazy judge throws out Obama's stem-cell policy—and Bush's.
Once again, the Congress has sent me legislation that would compel American taxpayers, for the first time in our history, to support the deliberate destruction of human embryos. In 2001 … I became the first President to make Federal funds available for embryonic stem cell research, and my policy did this in ways that would not encourage the destruction of embryos. Since then, my Administration has made more than $130 million available for research on stem cell lines derived from embryos that had already been destroyed.
So in two successive Congresses—the first controlled by Republicans, the second by Democrats—the president and a majority of each chamber agreed that ESC research should be funded. They did so even as they re-enacted the Dickey Amendment each year. To conclude that in re-enacting this amendment they meant to forbid all federal funding of ESC research, you'd have to believe that they deliberately contradicted themselves four times. To conclude, as Lamberth does, that they "unambiguously" meant to forbid all such funding, you'd have to be brain-dead. At a minimum, if their behavior is self-contradictory, the meaning of the amendment since 2005 has become ambiguous.
The Obama administration has already announced it will appeal Lamberth's ruling. But why wait for the courts to sort this out? That isn't their job. The Dickey-Wicker mess should end where it began: in Congress. A stem-cell funding bill approved by a Congress that was 46 percent Democratic should easily pass a Congress that's 58 percent Democratic. And this time, Bush won't be around to veto it.
Will Saletan covers science, technology, and politics for Slate and says a lot of things that get him in trouble.
Photograph of George W. Bush by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.