In a major test of the federal government’s wartime powers, the Supreme Court agreed today to consider a challenge to the Bush administration’s military tribunals for foreign terror suspects, the Associated Press reports. The court will decide whether Osama bin Laden’s driver can be tried for war crimes before military officers in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Chief Justice John Roberts, as an appeals court judge, joined a ruling against the driver, Salim Ahmed Hamdan. He did not participate in today’s action. The AP says that attorneys for Hamdan were expected to ask Roberts to participate in the case, to avoid a 4-4 tie. In one recent case, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who is retiring, wrote that “a state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation’s citizens.” The announcement of the court’s action to hear the new case came after President Bush, asked about reports of secret U.S. prisons in Eastern Europe for terrorism suspects, declared that his administration does not torture suspects.