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A decision for modern times

May 22, 2012
The Journal

Every now and then a case comes before the US Supreme Court that shows why we need to interpret laws for modern times.

On Monday the Supreme Court ruled that a pair of twins, conceived by artificial insemination with their dead father's frozen sperm and born 18 months after their father's death, can't received Social Security survivor benefits. Certainly the founding fathers never anticipated this kind of situation. In fact, the folks who designed Social Security back in 1935 probably never dreamed of this scenario.

The Supreme Court upheld a ruling based on a Florida law that states children conceived posthumously cannot inherit from their father's estate unless they are specifically mentioned in the will. The court ruled that state laws should be the basis for the Social Security decisions.

Social Security was designed to benefit the family that a deceased wage earner actually supported in his or her lifetime, to provide the support the wage earner can no longer provide. The children of Robert and Karen Capato, born after his death, never had that support.

We have no doubt that the courts will be called upon more and more in the future to deal with situations brought about by advances in science and technology that society has never had to deal with before.



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