The New York Times on the Supreme Court, 1857-2008
Publication Year: 2009
A fascinating, unique history of the Supreme Court as seen from the perspective of The New York Times. The New York Times on the Supreme Court, the second volume in the TimesReference imprint from CQ Press, uses carefully chosen articles from The Times to explore the history and influence of the Supreme Court. Author Kenneth Jost provides expert analysis and presents selected news stories, letters to the editor, and Op Ed essays from the paper to look at the development of the Court and its relationship to the other branches of government and to the states. Later chapters explore key themes—including freedom of ideas, the rights of political participation, equal protection of the law, crime and punishment—and the appropriate major cases, which are accompanied by ...
- Front Matter
- Chapter 1. The Court and Congress
- Chapter 2. The Court and The President
- Chapter 3. The Court and Judicial Power
- Chapter 4 The Court and the States
- Chapter 5. Freedom of Ideas
- Chapter 6. The Rights of Political Participation
- Chapter 7. Equal Protection of the Law
- Chapter 8. Liberty, Property, and Due Process
- Chapter 9. Crime and Punishment
- Chapter 10. The Roberts Court
Copyright by Sage Publications, Inc.
About TimesReference from CQ Press
The books in the TimesReference from CQ Press series present unique documentary histories on a range of topics. The lens through which the histories are viewed is the original reporting of The New York Times and its many generations of legendary reporters.
Each book consists of documents selected from The New York Times newspaper accompanied by original narrative written by a scholar or content expert that provides context and analysis. The documents are primarily news articles, but also include editorials, op-ed essays, letters to the editor, columns, and news analyses. Some are presented full text; others, because of length, have been excerpted. Ellipses indicate omitted text. Using the headline and date as search criteria, readers can find the full text of all articles in The Times' online archive at http://nytimes.com, which includes all of The Times' articles since the newspaper began publication in 1851.
The Internet age has revolutionized the way news is delivered, which means that there is no longer only one version of a story. Today, breaking news articles that appear on The Times' Web site are written to provide up-to-the-minute coverage of events and therefore may differ from articles published in the print edition. Content could also differ between early and late editions of a day's printed paper. As such, there may be discrepancies between articles included in these volumes and versions found elsewhere.
The books are illustrated with photographs and other types of images. While most of these appeared in the print or online edition of the paper, not all were created by The Times, which, like many newspapers, relies on wire services for photographs. There are also images and editorial features in these books that did not appear in The Times; they were created or selected by CQ Press to enhance the documentary history being told. For example, in The New York Times on the Supreme Court, we added a chronology of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Court-packing plan, as well as tables outlining the Court's decisions on such issues as school integration, abortion, and the death penalty.
[Page x]Readers will note that many articles are introduced by several levels of headlines—especially in pieces from the paper's early years. This was done to emphasize the importance of the article. For very important stories, banner headlines stretch across the front page's many columns; every attempt has been made to include these with the relevant articles. Over the years, The Times added datelines and bylines at the beginning of articles.
Typographical and punctuation errors are the bane of every publisher's existence. Because all of the documents included in this book were re-typeset, CQ Press approached these problems in several different ways. Archaic spellings from the paper's early days appear as they did in the original documents (for example, “employe” rather than “employee”). CQ Press corrected minor typographical errors that appeared in the original articles to assist readers' comprehension. In some cases, factual or other errors have been marked [sic]; where the meaning would be distorted, corrections have been made in brackets where possible.
About the Author
Gun rights versus gun control.
Demonstrators on both sides of the gun wars gathered in front of the Supreme Court plaza on June 26, 2008, to await a historic ruling. The United States' highest court was about to define—for the first time in more than 200 years—the meaning of the Second Amendment's declaration that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Gun control advocates argued the amendment did nothing more than protect states' rights to maintain what the opening clause calls “a well regulated Militia.” Gun rights advocates passionately believed the amendment guaranteed an individual right to own and possess firearms. They said many gun control laws violated the rights of law-abiding citizens to use guns for hunting, recreation, and self-defense.
The Supreme Court agreed to decide the question in a case challenging a District of Columbia law that essentially banned private ownership of handguns within the nation's capital. The nine justices heard arguments in the case in mid-March. Now, they were set to announce the decision on the final day of the 2007–2008 term.
The Court session opened at the stroke of ten o'clock. The gun ban decision was the last of three rulings announced. Speaking for a five-justice majority, Justice Antonin Scalia explained the Court's conclusion to a hushed courtroom audience: the Second Amendment protects an individual right to own and use guns in the home for self-defense. The District of Columbia law was unconstitutional because it violated that right.
In turn, Justice John Paul Stevens spoke for four dissenters, stating that the ruling misinterpreted the text and the history of the Second Amendment. He also considered it an unwise departure from judicial restraint. “This Court should stay out of this political thicket,” he said.
Together, Scalia and Stevens spoke for twenty-five minutes. The justices' opinions in the case ran much longer, coming in at 154 pages total. The task of reading those opinions and explaining them to Americans fell initially to some thirty reporters who cover the Court regularly for major news organizations.
[Page xiv]None of those reporters was more respected within journalistic circles than Linda Greenhouse, who had covered the Supreme Court for The New York Times for nearly thirty years. Greenhouse's 1,384-word story appeared under a banner headline: “ Justices, Ruling 5-4, Endorse Personal Right to Own Gun.” (See page 345.) The story was a model of legal reportage: informative but concise, carefully balanced, and free of legal jargon. The ruling, Greenhouse wrote, “appeared certain to usher in a new round of litigation over gun rights throughout the country.”
The Times' coverage of the Supreme Court had not always been so thorough since the newspaper's founding in 1851. To take one example, the newspaper's story on the Court's historic Dred Scott decision on March 7, 1857, was less than completely informative. Bearing a one-column notation “IMPORTANT FROM WASHINGTON,” the story accurately reported the Court's holdings that blacks could never be citizens of the United States and that Congress had no power to prohibit slavery in the unincorporated territories. The story included no discussion, however, of the potential impact of the ruling—which quickly became a flashpoint between pro- and antislavery forces and helped make the Civil War inevitable. Still, The Times' uncredited correspondent included the colorful detail that the courtroom audience included “gentlemen of eminent legal ability, and a due proportion of ladies.” (See page 258.)
The New York Times on the Supreme Court chronicles the history and role of the Supreme Court in a unique way. It uses articles gleaned from 158 years of New York Times reporting as historical documents to show the ways in which the Court's decisions were reported and understood at the time the rulings were handed down.
Having covered the Supreme Court as a reporter, editor, or columnist for more than thirty years, I relished the chance to spend several months digging through The Times' archives. The newspaper's coverage of events and materials that had become quite familiar to me provided new information and new insights. Simply put, the stories, essays, and editorials are fascinating—sometimes surprising, occasionally amusing, and always interesting.
Like CQ Press's other Supreme Court titles—including my one-volume encyclopedia, The Supreme Court A to Z—this book strives for objective, nonpartisan exposition and analysis. The design follows the organization of CQ Press's comprehensive Guide to the Supreme Court, now in its fourth edition in the capable hands of David Savage, the longtime Supreme Court correspondent for the Los Angeles Times.
Part One covers the Supreme Court's role in the federal system established by the U.S. Constitution more than two centuries ago. Chapters 1 and 2 examine the Supreme Court's rulings on the powers of the legislative and executive branches of the national government. Chapter 3 explains the impact of the Court's decisions on its own power and the powers of the federal judiciary generally. Chapter 4 then turns to the Court's rulings on the role and powers of the states.
In Part Two, the focus is on the impact of the Supreme Court on the individual: how the justices' decisions on individual rights and liberties affect Americans in their day-to-day lives. Chapter 5, “Freedom of Ideas,” covers the rights protected by the First Amendment: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion. Chapter 6, “The Rights of Political Participation,” examines rulings on the right to vote, the right to equal representation, and the rights of candidates and individuals to spend money in political campaigns.
The next two chapters turn to the Supreme Court's rulings on two important clauses of the post–Civil War Fourteenth Amendment. Chapter 7, “Equal Protection of the Law,” [Page xv]chronicles the role the Court has (or has not) played in protecting equal rights for Americans from the days of slavery and Reconstruction through the modern civil rights era. Chapter 8, “Liberty, Property, and Due Process,” examines the Court's use of the Due Process Clause to recognize individual rights in a variety of areas, including property rights, reproductive freedom, and gay rights. The gun rights decision also appears in this chapter; it remains to be seen whether—and how—the Court will use the Due Process Clause to apply the Second Amendment to state and local governments.
Chapter 9, “Crime and Punishment,” details the Supreme Court's rulings on criminal justice. It focuses on the controversial decisions of the 1960s enforcing constitutional rights for suspects and criminal defendants and the rulings in the decades since narrowing some of those decisions and going beyond them in some other instances.
Each of these chapters opens by telling the story of one important Supreme Court case that illustrates the chapter's major themes. This vignette is followed by a section entitled “Early Developments” that explains the constitutional underpinnings in the area, relates the Court's first significant rulings, and traces developments up to the beginnings of the Court's modern jurisprudence in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. The remaining sections in each chapter cover individual topics up to the present day. Subheadings throughout each chapter help guide readers to specific topics, while case data in the margins provide readers with details of justices' votes and direct them to discussion of specific cases. Some chapters include special features to summarize events or Court rulings over time, such as a detailed chronology of the controversy over President Franklin D. Roosevelt's “Court-packing” plan (Chapter 3) or tables on major rulings on school desegregation (Chapter 7), abortion (Chapter 8), and capital punishment (Chapter 9).
Chapter 10, “The Roberts Court,” gives an overview of the current Court along with biographical sketches of the justices, including Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., now starting his fourth term. Each biography incorporates the profile that The Times published when the justice's nomination was announced along with my own brief overview of the justice's career since taking the bench.
The Supreme Court's role in American life has changed dramatically since its opening session on February 1, 1790, with only three of the six justices present. The Court had few cases during its first decade. Even so, Chief Justice John Jay described the work as “intolerable.” Justices spent most of their time not in the nation's capital, but “riding circuit”—traveling from place to place, hearing cases individually or as part of three-judge “circuit courts.”
Today, the nine justices are in session in Washington, D.C., for nine months every year: from the first Monday in October until, typically, the last week in June. Each year, the Court receives more than 8,000 petitions for certiorari, the legal term for review of a lower court decision. From those petitions, the justices in recent years have been selecting around seventy cases to hear and decide. The work is demanding, but—aided by law clerks and computerized legal research resources—none of the current justices has described it as intolerable.
The Court's early decisions helped define the powers of the three branches of the national government—legislative, executive, and judicial—and the powers of the national government vis-à-vis the states. In many ways, however, the Court's rulings had only limited impact on most people's lives. One reason was an 1833 decision that the Bill of Rights applied only to the federal government, not to the states.
[Page xvi]Today, the Court's decisions profoundly affect each and every American in myriad ways, large and small. The Court's influence has grown because of its role in interpreting the vast expansion of federal legislation and its decisions enforcing almost all of the provisions of the Bill of Rights against the states. As a result, the Court now defines free speech rights for high school students and shapes rules for equal treatment in the workplace. The Court has given parents the right to control their children's schooling, women a qualified right to choose to have an abortion, and critically ill or injured patients the right to refuse life-sustaining treatment. The Court has required states to draw legislative districts equally and to follow elaborate procedures in imposing the death penalty. In 2000 the Court even helped decide a closely contested presidential election.
The New York Times has also changed dramatically since its founding on September 18, 1851. The narrow columns, small type, and stilted language of the nineteenth century have been replaced in the twenty-first century with wider columns, bigger type, and more accessible writing—not to mention color photographs.
Through the nineteenth century, The Times was one of many New York newspapers, although not one of the more profitable or influential. The newspaper has grown in size and stature since its acquisition by Adolph Ochs in 1896. Under the continuing control of members of the Ochs-Sulzberger family, it has grown into a nationally and internationally recognized newspaper of record with, as Ochs's slogan continues to promise, “All the news that's fit to print.”
The Times' coverage of the Supreme Court has also profoundly changed, as illustrated by some of the articles reprinted here. Many of the articles from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries fall short in explaining the legal reasoning of a decision or the background of the case. The Times devoted only two paragraphs to the now infamous 1896 decision in Plessy v. Ferguson upholding legally mandated racial segregation—and misspelled Plessy's name besides. (See page 263.) Today, The Times devotes much more space to Supreme Court coverage, and stories on individual decisions provide much greater detail as to legal procedure and reasoning and their likely impact. It is difficult to imagine any of the newspaper's recent Supreme Court correspondents giving such slight attention to a landmark decision as Plessy received.
The Times' editorial positions have also changed. In the 1880s the newspaper applauded the Supreme Court decisions limiting the federal government's role in enforcing civil rights for African Americans. In 1916 the Times opposed the confirmation of Justice Louis D. Brandeis, saying that his “radical” views qualified him for legislative but not judicial service. Today, The Times vigorously supports civil rights not only for African Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities, but also for women, gays, and other historically disadvantaged groups. The newspaper opposed as too conservative the confirmation of, among others, three members of the current Court: Chief Justice Roberts and Associate Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.
For me, reading or re-reading The Times' coverage from the past five decades has been a personal journey of sorts. As a teenager, I developed what proved to be a lasting interest in law and journalism from reading Anthony Lewis's marvelous book Gideon's Trumpet, the account of the Supreme Court decision that guaranteed indigent criminal defendants the right to an appointed attorney. Lewis covered the Court for The Times for six years and won a Pulitzer Prize in 1963 for his reporting.
Lewis, who went on to be a Times columnist for more than three decades, can rightly be credited with setting the newspaper on a path to consistently distinguished reporting on the Court. Readers will find in the following pages Lewis's stories on such decisions as Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) and the landmark libel law ruling New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964).
Three reporters still living and working today have helped continue the tradition Lewis established: Fred P. Graham, Linda Greenhouse, and Stuart Taylor Jr. (Warren Weaver Jr., who covered the Court in the mid-1970s, died in 1989.) Graham succeeded Lewis and reported on the Court until 1972, when he joined CBS News; he is now senior editor for truTV (formerly CourtTV). Greenhouse succeeded Weaver in 1978 and covered the Court until her retirement in July 2008, except for a maternity leave in the mid-1980s. Taylor had the beat during Greenhouse's absence; he went on to become a senior writer with American Lawyer and is currently a senior writer for National Journal and a contributing editor for Newsweek.
Many readers will be curious about the qualifications these reporters brought to the Supreme Court beat. Graham and Taylor both graduated from law school and practiced law before joining The Times. Lewis and Greenhouse studied law during one-year sabbaticals from the newspaper—Lewis as a Nieman fellow at Harvard University, Greenhouse in a master of law program for journalists at Yale Law School.
My coverage of the Supreme Court began while working the local and state court beat at the Tennessean in my hometown of Nashville in the 1970s. In the 1980s, I was editor of the Los Angeles Daily Journal, a legal affairs newspaper. For the past twenty years, I have been writing about the Court and legal affairs generally for Congressional Quarterly and for CQ Press, now a division of SAGE. I earned a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center while taking a break from journalism to work on Capitol Hill for then-Rep. Al Gore.
Throughout my career, The Times' coverage of the Supreme Court has been indispensable to my understanding of the high court's decisions and procedures. I am glad to be able to count Graham, Greenhouse, and Taylor as friends and colleagues; and I was pleased to meet Lewis in person for the first time while writing this book. My thanks to each of them and to the many other distinguished Times journalists for their fine work represented in the following pages.
At CQ Press, my thanks to president John A. Jenkins, an accomplished writer and author on the Supreme Court himself, for nominating me for this undertaking; to Andrea Pedolsky, for superintending the project; and to Doug Goldenberg-Hart, for helping shape it. Thanks also to development editor Andrew Boney and manuscript editor Jennifer Campi for attentive and insightful editing. Very special thanks also go to Mike Kotlarczyk, Jim Harper, and Jeremy McLaughlin, research interns who mined The Times' archives for the most informative and insightful stories and editorials while completing their final year of law school at Georgetown. I wish the very best to each of them in their careers as members of the bar.
On a strictly personal note, let me dedicate this book to two exceptional children, Nicole Jost and Andrew (AJ) Jost. My hope for them—and for all Americans—is that they live to see made more nearly real the promise carved in granite above the entrance to the Supreme Court building: “Equal Justice Under Law.”
Prologue: The Supreme Court and the “War on Terror”
Within a month after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, U.S. intelligence agents gave the government of Bosnia evidence of a suspected “sleeper cell” of the terrorist organization al Qaeda. Evidence against six native Algerians, including intercepted telephone calls between one of them and an al Qaeda operative in Afghanistan, suggested that they might have been plotting an attack on the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo.
Bosnian authorities arrested the men, all Muslims. But after a three-month investigation by Bosnian police, aided by FBI agents and U.S. embassy security personnel, Bosnia's supreme court ordered the men released for lack of evidence. Instead of freeing the men, however, Bosnian authorities turned them over early on the morning of January 18, 2002, to U.S. military police to be flown more than 5,000 miles away to a U.S. prison at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.
The six men were among hundreds of suspected “enemy combatants” captured in the post-9/11 war in Afghanistan or rounded up in other countries and taken over time to the U.S. naval base under an executive order signed by President George W. Bush on November 13, 2001. Bush's legal advisers had concluded that Guantánamo, more than 500 miles from the nearest U.S. landfall, could be used to detain the suspected terrorists outside the jurisdiction of any U.S. courts.
Bush's advisers were wrong. Two-and-a-half years after the first of the suspected terrorists arrived at Guantánamo, the Supreme Court ruled in June 2004 that federal courts had the power to determine whether they were being held legally. The administration responded by getting Congress to pass a law giving the detainees truncated hearings before special military tribunals or “commissions.” In June 2006, however, the Supreme Court ruled that the military commissions did not satisfy standards required by the Uniform Code of Military Justice or the Geneva Conventions, the international treaties governing the treatment of wartime captives.
The Supreme Court's rulings cheered human rights advocates in the United States and abroad, who viewed the administration's policies as violations of constitutional rights as well as international law. The administration and its conservative supporters countered that the Court was intruding on the president's powers as commander in chief and giving enemy captives legal protections unprecedented in time of war.
The administration was surprised by the Court's rulings, but perhaps it should not have been. Back in the 1800s, the French visitor Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that there is no significant political dispute in America that does not sooner or later end up in American courts. In fact, the Supreme Court had closely examined presidential actions in previous conflicts—from Abraham Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus in the Civil War to Franklin D. Roosevelt's internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. In the late twentieth century, the Court had become more attentive to protecting individual liberties and more jealous of its own role in policing the separation of powers between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the national government. (See Part One, “The Supreme Court and the Federal System”; Part Two, “The Supreme Court and the Individual.”)
For the president, Congress, and the Court alike, the post-9/11 “war on terror” posed a multitude of new and difficult challenges. At home, Americans shaken by the fearful images of hijacked [Page 2]aircraft toppling the World Trade Center towers and crashing into the Pentagon demanded fail-safe protections against future terrorist attacks. But they also worried about living in a surveillance state with diminished individual freedoms. Abroad, the United States worked to enlist support for a war against extremist Islamic groups. But the government also strove to give reassurances of friendship to the world's Muslims and the governments of Muslim-populated countries.
Legally, the government faced vexing difficulties on how to handle the hundreds of people captured in a war fought by an enemy that owed no allegiance to any state, respected no national border, and had no timetable for victory or surrender. The Geneva Conventions limit interrogation of prisoners of war, but the United States desperately wanted intelligence about al Qaeda's operations, its plans, even the whereabouts of the group's leader, Osama bin Laden. Al Qaeda had not signed the Geneva Conventions and its members did not fight openly and in uniform as the laws of war require. Yet the treaties included provisions—in so-called Common Article 3—setting minimum standards for treatment of any combatants captured in unconventional wars as well.
Bush maintained that his constitutional status as commander in chief gave him broad discretion on these questions. He claimed the power to detain U.S. citizens as enemy combatants, holding them largely incommunicado, for an indefinite period and to try them in military tribunals instead of civilian courts. He claimed the power to hold foreigners as enemy combatants outside U.S. borders similarly for indefinite periods and with limited access to visitors, lawyers, or international representatives. He claimed the power to do all this with only limited oversight by federal courts.
One by one, legal challenges filed by detainees reached the Supreme Court; and in case after case, the Court rejected the administration's policies. In 2004 the Court ruled that Yaser Hamdi, a U.S. citizen held since he was turned over to U.S. forces in November 2001 by the pro-American Northern Front in Afghanistan, was entitled to some hearing before a “neutral decisionmaker.” “We have long since made clear that a state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the Nation's citizens,” Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote in the main opinion in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld.
On the same day, the Court held, 6-3, that the Guantánamo detainees could go to federal courts with petitions for a writ of habeas corpus—the centuries-old procedure for prisoners to ask courts to rule on the legality of their incarceration. “Application of the habeas statute to persons detained at the base is consistent with the historical reach of the writ of habeas corpus,” Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in Rasul v. Bush (2004).
In passing the Detainee Treatment Act a year later, Congress tried to cut off habeas corpus petitions by the Guantánamo detainees while providing hearings before military tribunals to determine their status as enemy combatants. The Court considered both aspects of the law in a case brought by Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni Muslim who had served for more than four years as bin Laden's bodyguard and driver.
The Court's 5-3 decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006) ruled Congress had not eliminated jurisdiction over pending habeas corpus cases, only future petitions. For the majority, Stevens also found the hearing procedures before the military tribunals inadequate, saying they departed without reason from the more formal requirements of regular courts-martial set out in the Uniform Code of Military Justice as passed by Congress.
Congress and Bush responded only a few months later by passing and signing into law the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which more explicitly barred federal courts from hearing any habeas corpus petitions by Guantánamo detainees. The act provided instead that detainees could challenge their detention before military panels—called Combatant Status Review Tribunals—with limited review of the proceedings by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The Supreme Court agreed to rule on the constitutionality of the new law after the D.C. Circuit upheld it in a split decision in February 2007. The appeals court had ruled in two consolidated appeals by Guantánamo detainees: Boumediene v. Bush, brought on behalf of the Algerians arrested in Bosnia, and Al Odah v. United States, brought on behalf of groups of Kuwaiti and Yemeni nationals. [Page 3]The majority on the three-judge panel agreed with the government that aliens held at Guantánamo, outside U.S. territory, had no right to challenge their detention through habeas corpus.
The Court that heard arguments in the case in early December 2007 was—as it had been for years—closely divided along ideological lines. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., appointed by Bush two years earlier, had assumed leadership of a conservative bloc that also included veteran justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas and a second Bush appointee, Samuel A. Alito Jr. Four justices typically took liberal positions in the Court's most contentious issues: Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen G. Breyer. In many cases, the pivotal vote belonged to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, a moderate conservative nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1987. (See Chapter 10, “The Roberts Court.”)
Six months after the arguments, the Court ruled the new law unconstitutional in a dramatic 5-4 decision. “We hold that petitioners may invoke the fundamental procedural protections of habeas corpus,” Kennedy wrote for himself and the four liberal justices in Boumediene v. Bush (2008).
Habeas corpus applied because the United States exercised de facto sovereignty over Guantánamo, Kennedy wrote in the June 12 ruling. But the procedures under the Military Commissions Act were not an adequate substitute for habeas corpus, he continued, because the law gave detainees no right to bring new evidence into court to challenge the military tribunals' rulings.
In the first of two dissenting opinions for the four conservatives, Roberts said that the majority had found inadequate “the most generous set of procedural protections ever afforded aliens detained by this country as enemy combatants.” Scalia was blunter in a dissent that was also joined by the other three conservatives. The Court's ruling would have “disastrous consequences,” Scalia argued, by making it harder for the military to detain suspected enemy combatants. “The Nation will live to regret what the Court has done today,” he concluded.
In her account in The New York Times, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Supreme Court correspondent Linda Greenhouse wrote that the ruling “left some important questions unanswered.” She forecast “months or years of continued litigation” ahead.
The ruling did spur prompt action by the two federal district court judges in Washington overseeing the habeas cases. In a hearing on July 8, just twenty-six days after the decision, Judge Thomas F. Hogan told government attorneys and the more than 120 lawyers representing detainees in the bulk of the cases that he would do all he could to speed decisions in the cases. Two days later, Judge Richard Leon signaled the same approach for the twelve cases before him. These cases, Leon said, “will be resolved this year.”