Sterilization compensation claims returned to appeals court


RALEIGH (AP) -- North Carolina's highest court says a lower appeals court should determine whether a law compensating people involuntarily sterilized by the state decades ago is unconstitutional.

The state Supreme Court ruled Friday in cases in which the estates of three people who died before a cutoff date in the 2013 law sought money. Those living on that date qualified.

A state commission denied the claims but did not address arguments by estate lawyers that the law violated equal protection rights for the deceased. The state Court of Appeals wrote last year those constitutional arguments must be heard in Wake County trial court. But the Supreme Court said it is the Court of Appeals' job.

About 7,600 people were sterilized between 1929 and 1974. More than 200 people have received payments.