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Portal:Supreme Court of the United States

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The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest judicial body in the United States and leads the judicial branch of the United States federal government. The Justices are nominated by the President and confirmed with the "advice and consent" of the Senate. They are appointed to serve "during good behavior," which means for life, and leave office only upon death, retirement, resignation, or impeachment and subsequent conviction. The Supreme Court holds both original and appellate jurisdiction, with its appellate jurisdiction accounting for most of the Court's caseload. The Supreme Court meets in Washington, D.C., in the United States Supreme Court building. The Court's yearly terms usually start on the first Monday in October and finish sometime during the following June or July. Each term consists of alternating two week intervals. During the first interval, the court is in session and hears cases, and during the second interval, the court is recessed to consider and write opinions on cases they have heard.

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Justice Stevens, the author of the Court's opinion.
Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 548 U.S. 557 (2006), is a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that military commissions set up by the Bush administration to try detainees at Guantanamo Bay lack "the power to proceed because its structures and procedures violate both the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the four Geneva Conventions signed in 1949." Justice John Paul Stevens (pictured) was the author of the Court's opinion. Specifically, the ruling says that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions was violated. The case considered whether the United States Congress may pass legislation preventing the Supreme Court from hearing the case of an accused combatant before his military commission takes place, whether the special military commissions that had been set up violated federal law (including the Uniform Code of Military Justice and treaty obligations), and whether courts can enforce the articles of the 1949 Geneva Convention. An unusual aspect of the case was an amicus brief filed by Senators Jon Kyl and Lindsey Graham, which presented an “extensive colloquy” added to the Congressional record as evidence that "Congress was aware" that the Detainee Treatment Act would strip the Supreme Court of jurisdiction to hear cases brought by the Guantanamo detainees. Because these statements were not actually included in the December 21 debate, Emily Bazelon of Slate magazine has argued this was an attempt to mislead the court. On June 29, 2006, the Court issued a 5-3 decision holding that it had jurisdiction, that the administration did not have authority to set up these particular military commissions without congressional authorization, because they did not comply with the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Convention (which the court found to be incorporated into the Uniform Code of Military Justice). Just days earlier, Hamdan's defense attorney Lieutenant Commander Charles Swift had been named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America by the National Law Journal. But in October, the Navy announced plans to dismiss him under its "up or out" promotion policy.

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2005 US Supreme Court
Credit: U.S. Supreme Court

2005 Supreme Court, under Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

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Salmon P. Chase
Salmon Portland Chase (1808 – 1873) was an American politician and jurist who served as U.S. Senator from Ohio and the 23rd Governor of Ohio; as U.S. Treasury Secretary under President Abraham Lincoln; and as the sixth Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Chase was one of the most prominent members of the new Republican Party before becoming Chief Justice. Chase articulated the "Slave Power conspiracy" thesis well before Lincoln. He coined the slogan of the Free Soil Party, "Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men." He devoted his energies to the destruction of what he considered the Slave Power – the conspiracy of Southern slave owners to seize control of the federal government and block the progress of liberty.

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