Lau, Andrew


Human embryonic stem cell research has tremendous potential for treating or curing many diseases that cause human suffering. Nevertheless, federal funding for stem cell research has had a controversial history in the United States. While many Americans believe that stem cell research will lead to the development of critical medical technology, others oppose it because of its association with abortion. These ethical issues have made stem cell research a prime target for political posturing, particularly because of how much power presidents have over stem cell research policies. By using vetoes, directives, or executive orders to manipulate stem cell policies, presidents have engaged in executive branch judo to work around the separation of powers and engage in unauthorized lawmaking activity at the expense of the public.

This note will analyze the history of the United States’ stem cell research policies and explain how presidents have interfered with its development. Based on the principles of Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, presidents have repeatedly manipulated stem cell policies in violation of the Constitution. In light of these violations, this note proposes several methods to curtail the president’s unilateral control over an entire field of scientific research. Human embryonic stem cell research represents the next frontier of biomedical science, but its benefits will only reach the American public if the United States puts an end to the presidential practice of using executive branch judo to manipulate it.

Included in

Law Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.