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A federal appeals court invalidated a California law Thursday that allowed heirs of Armenians killed in the Turkish Ottoman Empire nearly a century ago to seek payment on the life insurance policies of dead relatives.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the law amounted to unconstitutional meddling in U.S. foreign policy.

It based its 2-1 ruling on a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down another California law designed to help Holocaust survivors collect on Nazi-era insurance policies.

The federal government does not recognize the mass killings of Armenians during World War I as genocide, but the California Legislature did in 2000 when it enacted the disputed law.

About half of the people of Armenian descent living in this country reside in California.

Lawyer Brian Kabateck, who represents Armenian-American heirs, plans to appeal.

"The ruling is wrong. It's a disaster," Kabateck said. "The one million Armenians that live in California today have been told by the court that even the use of the word 'genocide' by a government is illegal."


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