Wednesday, May 31, 2006

On the Docket: Pending Blockbuster Cases Will Test the Roberts Court

This Los Angeles Times article discusses a handful of the remaining cases the Supreme Court will decide this June. One of the most important is Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, a case dealing with the administration's constitutional authority to try Guantanamo Bay detainees in military tribunals. For the Washington Post's analysis of the case, as it pertains to presidential power, click here. The remaining cases are expected to test the (thus-far robust) consensus-building skills of Chief Justice John Roberts:

As the Supreme Court heads into the final month of its term, the new chief justice has shown a knack for finding ways to decide cases on narrow issues that have led to unanimous rulings. But June is rarely the time for harmony and unanimity at the high court. The justices tend to put off the most difficult cases to the end of the term, and this one is no different. The court faces major decisions on terrorism tribunals, wetlands protection, lethal injection, domestic violence prosecutions and campaign finance limits. The final cases could test whether Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. can extend his record through his first term on the court, which he acknowledged could be a challenge in a recent talk to Maryland judges." I do feel at this point a bit like the fellow who jumped off the Empire State Building, passed the 50th floor and said, 'So far, so good,' " he joked. " The hard part's coming up." In all, 37 cases remain to be decided by the end of June. Unlike in years past, however, the justices will not face end-of-term decisions on issues that typically divide the court along ideological lines, such as religion, affirmative action, abortion and gay rights. In one highly anticipated case, the court could deal a rebuke to President Bush and the Defense Department for their plans to put some prisoners at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba on trial for war crimes in special military courts. Defense lawyers and civil libertarians say the military courts have not set fair rules and do not adhere to international standards for war crimes trials.

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