As Expected:
Based on a very quick skim, it looks the Court's opinion in Boumediene v. Bush is pretty much exactly what I predicted would happen in my Senate testimony over a year ago. Nothing I've seen in the Court's opinion so far is at all surprising, and it's a big defeat for the Bush Administration. This doesn't mean I have some amazing powers of observation; rather, I think this was a defeat that you could see coming from miles (or in this case, years) away. Or perhaps that whatever happened inside the Court on the road to the opinions, the result is pretty much what was expected.
Agreed that you could see this coming a mile away -- including the Court's reluctance to actually provide any content to the habeas procedures, instead remanding on the issue.

And yet Lyle Denniston describes the decision as a "stunning" blow to the Bush administration. But then again, when has Lyle Denniston been on-target?
6.12.2008 11:29am
Terrivus: "Stunning blow." "Big defeat." What's the difference?
6.12.2008 11:33am
Agreed. To stun does not necessarily imply to surprise. The shock of the stunning blow can also result from its strength and power alone without it being wholly unanticipated.
6.12.2008 11:41am

1. Registered: the difference is the element of surprise, which the word "stunning" captures. "Enormous blow," sure. "Severe blow," sure. But "stunning blow"? No. If something was more or less expected (as is our assumption here), it's not "stunning."

2. anomie: "To stun" is not the same as "stunning." In common parlance, the former can mean both "to surprise" and "to subject to strength and power"; the latter, by contrast, generally only means "surprising" -- e.g., "stunning upset," "stunning victory." (Indeed, even in the rare instance where something is described as a "stunning victory" because of the size of the victory, the word "stunning" is used to convey not that it was a large victory, but that the size of the victory was so unexpected.) To ascribe your definition to the word "stunning" makes the phrase "stunning blow" is redundant.
6.12.2008 11:56am
Bob from Ohio (mail):
Is it possible for it to be a big defeat for the nation?

Agree that it was not unexpected. The majority wants to protect judicial turf, it is upset the courts don't have much to say on the war on terror. That is why it tossed away all the 1940s precedent that the President relied on. I guess war is just not important enough for stare decisis to apply.
6.12.2008 12:05pm
Get a better dictionary, Terrivus. In common parlance, "stunning" includes the sense of loss of consciousness or strength, just as does the verb "to stun." It is simply not necessary that such loss be caused by surprise in order for a blow to be stunning.
6.12.2008 12:06pm
And though it shouldn't require mention, "stunning blow" is not at all redundant, since blows can also be of a "glancing", "ineffectual", or many other characters quite distinct from "stunning".
6.12.2008 12:10pm
I hope they had at least the decency to acknowlege they were reversing a couple of centuries of their own precedents.
6.12.2008 12:20pm
Muskrat (mail):
So if this was so predictable and, per the hastily-skimmed opening paragraphs of Scalia's dissent, will be so bad for the War on Terror, then why did the administration press on with the policies at issue? Was there no way to avoid this? No way to back down from GTMO that would have prevented the establishment of this "bad" precedent? Of course there was, but that would have required flexibility, thoughfullness, creative thinking, willingness to compromise or one of those other wussy effeminate qualities that are anathema to this White House.
6.12.2008 12:26pm
Sarcastro (www):
I think that the content of this decsion pales in comparison to the semantics of the outrageous title of a post on SCOTUSblog!

The Liberal Media, always indoctrinating the politically interested - a group notorious for it's vulnerability to titles of articles!
6.12.2008 12:30pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Sarcasto has rapidly become one of my favorite VC commenters.
6.12.2008 12:36pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Make that "Sarcastro."
6.12.2008 12:36pm
Get a better dictionary, Terrivus. In common parlance, "stunning" includes the sense of loss of consciousness or strength,

How about the Merriam-Webster Dictionary? Here are its two entries for "stunning":

1: causing astonishment or disbelief
2: strikingly impressive especially in beauty or excellence

That's funny... I see my definition in there -- definition 1, no less -- but not your "sense of loss of consciousness or strength" definition.

Get a better line of reasoning, anomie.
6.12.2008 12:46pm
Sarcastro (www):
Bah, my spelling is fine! It's some kinda liberal internet filter to make people of perspicacity such as myself look dumb!
6.12.2008 12:55pm
I'm sorry, Terrivus; I didn't realize that Merriam-Webster had become the final arbiter of the English lexicon. Of course, even if it were, you need only look at it's entry for "stun" and inflected forms "stunned" and "stunning" to find the following: "1 : to make senseless, groggy, or dizzy by or as if by a blow" -- which includes "daze" as a synonym.

Yes, "stunning blow" can be substituted for "surprising blow", "shocking blow", or "astonishing blow"; but it can at least as well be substituted for "staggering blow" or "dazing blow", which do not necessitate any surprise or lack of anticipation -- cf. YouTube video of frat boy requesting brother to smash beer bottle over frat boy's head. If it was Denniston's intent to convey the sense of "staggering blow", then you can fault him for choosing a word, "stunning", that is open to the unintended reading of "surprising blow"; you can't, however, claim that Denniston's only possible intent was to mean "surprising blow" and then fault him for that sense.

Such a silly argument. Refer to Sarcastro's more appropriate preemption should you feel inclined to continue it.
6.12.2008 1:06pm

1. You challenged me to turn to a dictionary to back up my argument. I did. It supported me. In rebuttal, you proffered the definition of a different word -- one that, in my second post in this thread, I had already noted contained more, and broader, meanings than the word at issue.

2. Also in rebuttal, you cited a YouTube video.

I wish I knew where you were a lawyer (if, in fact you are one) so that I could litigate against you.
6.12.2008 1:17pm
You would lose. Your faulty arguments are centuries past their prime, since the two senses of "stunning" go all the way back to their Germanic etymological root, a root that means both "resounding" and "thunder(ous)". You might claim that "stunning blow" is equivalent to "thunderstruck" and thus requires surprise commensurate to the unanticipated nature of a thunderbolt, but you simply can't avoid that all the way back to its root "stunning blow" is also equivalent to "resounding blow", and that doesn't require any surprise or lack of anticipation.

And with that bit of etymological enlightenment, I truly am done with this silliness.
6.12.2008 1:27pm
pgepps (www):
anomie should be using T's own definitions against him.

"causing astonishment or disbelief" does not mean "unexpected." Else no woman ever wore "a stunning ensemble" and no plan was ever executed with "stunning brutality."

Magnitude, as well as suddenness, is clearly within the scope of the term. Get over it.

(but it is more commonly used of sudden than grand-scale changes, these days, and much more often yet as a journalistic noise indicating readers/viewers should begin hyperventilating forthwith)
6.12.2008 1:37pm
So all the gitmo detainees get shipped over to Iraq (or at least all future detainees). That should bring them back in line with Eisentrager.
6.12.2008 1:37pm

"Astonished" gets you to the same place as "stunned", since they both come from stān or stōn, which literally mean a stone, especially one hurled from a sling or catapult in combat or warfare. To be stunned or astonished literally meant to be hit by (especially on the head, and not necessarily surprised by) a stone. Figuratively, a heavenly bolt of light (a stun) got included in the sense of hurled missile, as well the resounding noise of catapult stones and thunderbolts. That is how the figurative sense of amazement and surprise creeps into "stunning".
6.12.2008 2:09pm
Syd Henderson (mail):
The only disappointment to me is that this decision was 5-4 rather than 7-2 or 9-0.
6.12.2008 3:31pm
DensityDuck (mail):
How exactly does the Court justify extending the protections of US citizenship to non-citizens?
6.12.2008 4:10pm
How exactly did the Court extend the protections of US citizenship to non-citizens?
6.12.2008 4:51pm
Baseballhead (mail):
Terrivus wrote: How about the Merriam-Webster Dictionary? Here are its two entries for "stunning"...{snip}
How about "crushing"? "Crippling"? "Devastating"? "Emasculating"? If the only victory the administration can come up with regarding Boumediene is that it's not "stunning," then that's a pretty complete loss.

Good day for Terrivus, though!
6.12.2008 5:36pm
Port Royale:

I think this was a defeat that you could see coming from miles (or in this case, years) away.

Maybe for you, Orin.

Not, for some hard core members of the vast right wing conspiracy, counting on more Scalia like puppets in SCOTUS by the time of appeal.
6.12.2008 9:20pm
Jim Miller (mail) (www):
Orin - Could you do us all non-lawyers a favor? Could you tell us whether you think this decision is good for the country? Not whether it is good law, not whether it is what we should expect from this Supreme Court, but whether it will have, on the whole, beneficial results?

In other words, briefly put being an American ahead of being a law professor. (Assuming other law professors will forgive you for that brief slip.)
6.12.2008 11:43pm
ATM (mail):
How exactly does the Court justify extending the protections of US citizenship to non-citizens?

That isn't the question to ask. The question is how can they justify extending protections to non-citizens and non-residents?
6.13.2008 12:12am