Court Nixes Challenge To Stem-Cell Grant Program

     (CN) – An Illinois appeals court said it cannot reverse the Illinois Department of Public Health’s 2006 disbursal of $10 million in grant money for stem-cell research. The court added that the taxpayer who challenged the money’s use had sued the wrong defendant, naming the department’s director instead of the governor who created the research program.




     In July 2005, then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich issued an executive order establishing the Illinois Regenerative Institute for Stem Cell Research. The order directed Eric Whitaker, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, to create the Illinois Regenerative Medical Institute, which would award $10 million in grants and loans to researchers working on stem-cell cures.
     The governor amended the order in 2006, requiring the department to adopt rules on administering the grants.
     Taxpayer Richard Caro sued Whitaker in April 2006 to stop him from disbursing the funds, claiming the executive orders were unconstitutional and invalid.
     The trial court granted Whitaker’s motion to dismiss on the basis that the complaint presented a political question that wasn’t appropriate for courts to decide. Caro pressed on with his suit, seeking to reverse dismissal even though the state had already awarded the grants.
     The appellate court, quoting another opinion, ruled that it simply “‘cannot prevent what has already been done.'”
     It also pointed out that Whitaker had nothing to do with the executive orders, and that Caro should have sued the governor or, at the very least, the grant recipients.
     “The trial court has no jurisdiction over any of those necessary parties and would be powerless to order the return of any allegedly misspent funds,” Justice Cunningham wrote.

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