Justices Face Decision on Accepting 9/11 Cases
With cases generated by the Bush administration’s response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, now reaching the Supreme Court in substantial numbers, the court faces a basic decision apart from the merits of any individual case: whether to become a player in the debate over where to set the balance between individual liberty and national security. As early as this week, there may be an indication of whether the court intends to remain on the sidelines, leaving the last word to lower courts that have so far deferred to the White House, or to weigh in with the same assertiveness it has displayed so often in recent years on some of the most bitterly disputed issues in American life. The first cases in the queue on the court’s docket are appeals filed on behalf of two groups of detainees at the United States naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. These appeals frame an issue that at some level all the cases, despite their considerable differences, have in common: the degree of deference owed by the judicial branch to the executive for actions taken in the name of national security in a crisis.