Friday, June 29, 2007

SCOTUS to Rehear Detainee Cases

File this one under whodathunkit.
From SCOTUSblog:

"In a startling turn of events in the legal combat over the war on terrorism, the Supreme Court on Friday agreed to reconsider the appeals in the Guantanamo Bay detainee cases. It vacated its April 2 order denying review of the two packets of cases. The Court then granted review, consolidated the cases, and said they would be heard in a one-hour argument in the new Term starting Oct. 1. Such a switch by the Court -- from denial to rehearing and new argument and decision -- may not have occurred since 1947, in Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, legal sources said Friday."

The WaPo chimes in

Yesterday's decision to change course and hear the case was so unusual that lawyers and court experts went to the archives to try to find the last time it happened. The only consensus was that it had been decades.

"The Supreme Court is going to decide the simple question: Does the Constitution protect the detainees?" said Georgetown University law professor Neal K. Katyal, who successfully argued a detainee case that the court decided just a year ago. In that case, the justices said President Bush did not have authority to set up the military tribunals that the administration thought should hear the cases against the detainees.

In April, three justices -- David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer -- said they were eager to hear the appeals, which presented questions that "deserve this court's immediate attention." It takes four justices to agree to take a case.

Justices John Paul Stevens and Anthony M. Kennedy said at the time that they would continue to monitor the legal proceedings involving the detainees. It takes five votes to rehear a denial, so perhaps the two justices concluded that they have seen enough. The court's order is silent on which justices agreed to hear the case. full article

Since only four Justices decided to take the predicting any future ruling is nigh impossible. Odds are it'll be a 5-4 decision. hopefully one in favor of the Geneva conventions. At least then we could say our system may be slow but it works.