August 7, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Sherley v Sebelius: Will SCOTUS hear the case? What happens if it does?

stem cell courtThe buzz topic in the stem cell field right now is whether the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) will take up the Sherley v Sebelius (S v S) case over the legality of federal funding of embryonic stem cell research in the U.S.

The SCOTUS decision as to whether to hear the S v S should come tomorrow (Monday).

I’ve predicted that the SCOTUS will take a pass on the case. The reality is that it could go either way even if I’m hopeful it’ll go in favor of stem cell research.

Most lawyers that I’ve talked to do not believe that the plaintiffs made a compelling argument to the SCOTUS to take up the case, but these kinds of decisions do not have to make sense to anyone but the SCOTUS.

In addition, what most people may not realize is that if the SCOTUS takes up the case, they will review the entire case (not just the factors argued by the plaintiffs to the SCOTUS in favor of taking up the case).

My gut feeling is that if the SCOTUS takes up the case, they will rule 5-4 on politically divided grounds and make federal funding of embryonic stem cell research illegal. Even if the SCOTUS were to rule in support of the research, in the interim the field would be slowed.

Hopefully the uncertainty will be resolved positively tomorrow.