Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Supreme Court hears arguments for survivors benefits for in vitro offspring

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The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Monday in a case testing whether children conceived through in vitro fertilization after the death of a parent are eligible for Social Security survivors benefits.

Robert and Karen Capato's twins were born in 2003 — 18 months after Robert Capato's death. And in its first review of "posthumous conception," the ­court struggled to align modern reproductive techniques to a federal law written in 1939.

In the end, the justices generally sounded disinclined to award Social Security survivor benefits to the Capato children. Theirs is among about 100 cases brought by children of artificial insemination born after the death of a father that the Social Security Administration has turned down.

Is lifetime sentence for juveniles cruel?

The Supreme Court will hear arguments today on whether it is cruel and unusual punishment to sentence juveniles to life in prison.

The controversial hearing will focus on two separate cases involving offenders who were 14 years old when they committed murder. The offenders, Evan Miller and Kuntrell Jackson, are now ages 23 and 26, respectively.

Michigan has six convicts who were 14 at the time their crimes were committed. Nationwide, there are approximately 73 serving life without parole for homicide cases.

Alabama's Equal Justice Initiative will argue the case on behalf of Miller and Jackson. In a recent brief filed by the advocacy group, they argue the court should weigh the offender's level of maturity at the time of their crimes, because teenagers are "given to impulsive, heedless, sensation-seeking behavior and excessive peer pressure," the brief reads.

Attorneys representing Arkansas have pointed to the 10th Amendment, which they interpret as giving the state the right to run their prison system according to their own standards.

Court won't consider Christian groups plea

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to consider a request by Christian groups on a college campus to allow them to limit membership based on religious beliefs.

Justices turned back a legal effort by a Christian fraternity and sorority at San Diego State University that challenged an anti-discrimination policy at California state universities.

The lawsuit filed in 2005 said the plaintiffs should be allowed to insist members follow their religious standards of conduct and avoid sex outside of marriage between a man and woman.

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