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Supreme Court won’t stop stem cell research

Refuses to hear appeal, sets gay marriage debate

The Supreme Court also said on Monday that it would not overturn a Georgia law banning firearms in churches and other places of worship.

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images/File 2012

The Supreme Court also said on Monday that it would not overturn a Georgia law banning firearms in churches and other places of worship.

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court said Monday that it will not stop the government’s funding of embryonic stem cell research, which is opposed by some because the work relies on destroyed human embryos.

The high court refused to hear an appeal from two scientists who have been challenging the government funding for the work. The US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia earlier this year threw out their lawsuit challenging funding for the research.

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Opponents claim the National Institutes of Health has been violating the 1996 Dickey-Wicker law that prohibits taxpayer financing for work that harms an embryo.

President Obama issued an executive order in 2009 that allowed research on stem cells taken from human embryos created by in vitro fertilization.

A federal court in Washington temporarily blocked the order in 2010 after two scientists opposed to all embryonic stem cell research ­— James Sherley of the Boston Biomedical Research Institute, a nonprofit in Watertown, and Theresa Deisher of Sound Choice Pharmaceutical Institute — filed suit to block it. But the executive order was later upheld by federal courts.

Sherley conducts research on adult stem cells.

The Supreme Court made no comment in rejecting the appeal Monday.

Researchers hope one day to use stem cells in ways that cure spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease, and other ailments.

In other action Monday:

 Campaign financing. The court said it will not hear an appeal from an antiabortion group that wanted to be exempted from campaign finance disclosure regulations.

The justices refused to hear an appeal from The Real Truth About Abortion, which was formerly called The Real Truth About Obama. The group wanted to stop the Federal Election Commission and the Justice Department from enforcing fund-raising and advertising regulations against it.

The Virginia group said its ‘‘issue advocacy’’ amounts to constitutionally protected free speech that does not expressly advocate the election or defeat of a candidate. The group also said that commission rules defining PACs and their activity are unconstitutionally broad and vague.

 Firearms ban: The high court said it would not overturn a Georgia law banning firearms in churches and other places of worship. It refused to hear an appeal from GeorgiaCarry.org, which wanted the justices to overturn a lower court decision upholding Georgia’s law banning guns in places of worship.

GeorgiaCarry.org argued that the ban applying specifically to places of worship burdens ‘‘religiously motivated conduct by regulating how or what a worshipper can do with a weapon while he is worshipping.’’

 Murder appeal. The justices declined to hear an appeal in the murder case of a Mexican woman who was sentenced to 99 years in prison for the death of a Texas boy.

Rosa Estela Olvera Jimenez was sentenced in 2005 for the death of a nearly 2-year-old boy she had been babysitting in Austin, Texas. The boy died three months after choking on five paper towels lodged in his throat. Jimenez said the boy ate the paper towels, but prosecutors argued that she stuffed the towels into the boy’s mouth.

 Same-sex marriage. The high court said it will hear two days’ worth of arguments over laws affecting gay marriage during the last week of March. The justices said they will hear arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry on March 26 and United States v. Windsor on March 27.

The first case involves California’s constitutional amendment that forbids same-sex marriage.

The second concerns a federal law that denies gay couples who legally marry the right to obtain federal benefits available to heterosexual married couples.

The court scheduled one hour’s worth of arguments on each day.

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