Q&A on the News

Q: What is the background of U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth, who barred the Obama administration from funding human embryonic stem cell research?

-- Edna Kopetz, Atlanta

A: Lamberth is a native of San Antonio and earned his degrees from the University of Texas, according to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia's website. He was appointed U.S. district judge for the District of Columbia on Nov. 16, 1987. He became chief judge on May 1, 2008. The Washington Post wrote this month that Lamberth, 67, is no stranger to controversy. The paper noted that Lamberth was one of several young government lawyers in the 1980s who sued then-Mayor Marion Barry and the district government over D.C. jail conditions. "His court continues to monitor many city agencies, and friends say he bristles over the treatment of disabled and foster children and other vulnerable citizens. He handled several high-profile cases under President Bill Clinton, to the consternation of many of his aides, one of whom called Lamberth a 'loose cannon,'" the paper said. The paper said Lamberth proved "nettlesome" to President George W. Bush. Lamberth, who served as head of the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court from 1995 to 2002, signed a May 2002 opinion that stated that the government misled the court, which approves spying on terrorism suspects in the U.S., more than 75 times, according to The Washington Post.

Lori Johnston wrote this column. Do you have a question about the news? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or e-mail q&a@ajc.com (include name, phone and city).