SJ Quinney College of Law, University of Utah


Congress enacts, on a nearly continuous basis, a variety of laws that affect scientific research and progress. Some of these laws have an unquestionably positive effect. For instance, Congress’s creation of the National Institutes of Health, the National Academy of Sciences, and NASA; its various appropriations to fund ground-breaking research; and a multitude of other laws have incalculably advanced human knowledge, and it is to Congress’s great credit that these laws have been and are continuing to be enacted. However, not all laws that affect the progress of sciences are an unalloyed good. Quite the opposite, often the laws aim to, and in fact do, retard the progress of scientific research. The question is then whether the benefit from those laws outweighs the costs imposed on scientific progress.