Appeals court to rehear Armenian genocide claim

November 7, 2011 - 3:00 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal appeals court is taking up the thorny issue of whether California law declaring there was an Armenian genocide in Turkey conflicts with U.S. foreign policy.

Last year, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that state law allowed heirs of Armenians killed in the Turkish Ottoman Empire to pursue a lawsuit seeking life insurance payments.

On Monday, the court agreed to convene a special 11-judge panel to reconsider the decision.

Turkey describes the Armenian deaths as resulting from civil unrest that accompanied the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

Turkey's supporters note that former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush defeated congressional legislation that would have recognized an Armenian genocide.

The heirs argue those presidential views were not official U.S. policy.