Michigan Governor Jenifer Granholm's office confirmed that it has removed their petition supporting embryonic stem cell research from the governor's publicly funded website. The governor's action came less than a week after the Thomas More Law Center filed a federal lawsuit asking the court to either ban the petition or allow pro-life groups to place their own petition supporting the ban on embryonic stem cell research on the website as well.
Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center, commented, "The battle is not yet over. She has not yet answered our lawsuit. It's important to keep in mind that the website in question is paid for and owned by the people of this State; it is not Governor Granholm's personal property. Yet, she only allowed people who supported her position to use the website to petition the leaders of the legislature — a clear case of discrimination against citizens who are pro-life."
On July 6, 2007, Thompson sent a letter to the governor asking that she immediately revise the portion of the website addressing restrictions on stem cell research to include an enclosed petition so that citizens who disagreed with her position could have the same opportunity to have their views communicated to the Senate Majority Leader and the Speaker of the House when she communicated the views of those who agreed with her.
The governor's office did not respond to the letter or to a phone call from one the Law Center's attorneys.
Law Center spokesperson, Mallary Hernly, commented, "This is a question of fundamental fairness. It is not about Governor Granholm voicing her opinion. It's about only allowing persons who agree with her position to use a publicly funded website to communicate with their legislative representatives."
The Thomas More Law Center filed the lawsuit in the US District Court in Lansing on behalf of the Lansing Guild of the Catholic Medical Association, Flint-Area Right To Life, and Right To Life — Lifespan
While the governor's actions are a step forward in ceasing this discriminatory practice, the lawsuit also seeks a declaration that Granholm's policy violated the constitutional rights of those citizens who were denied equal access to, and use of, the website. Further, it has yet to be shown whether this is a principled end to the discrimination or simply an attempt to put the lawsuit to rest.