Nina Totenberg

Updated October 6, 2021 at 3:13 PM ET

At the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, the justices sharply questioned the federal government's lawyer about the refusal to allow a Guantanamo Bay detainee to testify about his own torture at a so-called CIA black site in Poland.

The unexpectedly tense argument over torture in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack came in the case of Abu Zubaydah, a Guantanamo detainee who has never been charged with a crime, though he has been in U.S. custody for 20 years.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday in a case testing the limits of public disclosure about the CIA's secret torture program after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The central issue of the case concerns whether a detainee at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, who has never been charged with a crime can subpoena testimony from the CIA contractors who supervised his torture.

Abu Zubaydah was the first prisoner held by the CIA to undergo extensive torture.

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GAIL CURLEY: The honorable, the chief justice and the associate justices of the Supreme Court of the United States.


For the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, Monday marks the first time nearly all of them will gather together in the courtroom since the lockdown a year and a half ago. But if some of the justices greet the new term with great anticipation for a new conservative legal era, others likely are facing the term with dread.

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Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito launched a litany of acerbic barbs at critics of the Supreme Court's so-called shadow docket on Thursday.

Noting that the term was coined in a 2015 law review article, Alito said that the term has been adopted by "journalists and some political figures" in order to convey the idea that "something sneaky and dangerous" is going on at the high court when it rules on emergency appeals seeking the court's intervention.

Updated September 20, 2021 at 8:02 PM ET

The Supreme Court will hear arguments Dec. 1 in a case from Mississippi that tests whether all state laws that ban pre-viability abortions are unconstitutional.


U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has a warning to those who want to remake the court: Be careful what you wish for.

The Supreme Court's conservative majority tossed a legal bomb into the abortion debate late Wednesday night.

By a vote of 5-to-4, the court's most conservative members upheld, for now, a Texas law that, in effect, bans abortions after about six weeks. But almost as important as the result was how the court reached its decision — without full briefing and arguments before any court.

Updated September 2, 2021 at 12:20 PM ET

The U.S. Supreme Court late Wednesday night refused to block a Texas law that amounts to a ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The vote was 5-4, with three Trump-appointed justices joining two other conservative justices. Dissenting were conservative Chief Justice John Roberts and the court's three liberal justices.

Updated September 1, 2021 at 12:48 PM ET

Legislation banning abortions after about six weeks is now the law of the land in Texas, effectively ending Roe v. Wade protections in the state.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to partially lift a ban on evictions for renters in New York state, which was scheduled to expire at the end of the month.

In an unsigned order, with three dissents, the ruling justices agreed to pause parts of the eviction ban while a challenge works its way through the lower courts.

The battle is now joined at the U.S. Supreme Court. This week the state of Mississippi formally asked the high court to reverse its landmark 1973 abortion decision, Roe v. Wade, prompting abortion-rights defenders to say, in effect, "I told you so."

Despite a cautious approach to controversy for most of the Supreme Court term, statistics for the whole term tell a different story. By the numbers, the justices swerved to the right, even by the standards of the traditionally conservative Roberts court.

A picture of this rightward shift is captured by statistics compiled through NPR number crunching and the SCOTUSblog Stat Pack.

The court managed to escape being dragged into the 2020 election chaos

Despite the Trump campaign's best efforts, the Supreme Court--aided by some 50 rulings from the lower courts — left it to the vote counters, state officials, and the vote certification by Congress to determine the outcome. Chief Justice John Roberts and most, if not all, other members of the court likely were relieved not to be involved in the political imbroglio.

Updated July 1, 2021 at 4:53 PM ET

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday sided with rich donors and their desire to remain anonymous against a state law aimed at policing the finances of charities and other nonprofits.

By a 6-3 vote along ideological lines, the court struck down California's law requiring nonprofits to file a list of their large donors with the state. The court said the law subjected donors to potential harassment, chilling their speech in violation of the 1st Amendment

Updated July 1, 2021 at 4:37 PM ET

The U.S. Supreme Court Thursday gutted most of what remains of the landmark Voting Rights Act. The court's decision, while leaving some protections involving redistricting in place, left close to a dead letter the law once hailed as the most effective civil rights legislation in the nation's history.

The 6-3 vote was along ideological lines, with Justice Samuel Alito writing the decision for the court's conservative majority, and the liberals in angry dissent.

Updated June 29, 2021 at 7:53 PM ET

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to lift a ban on evictions for tenants who have failed to pay all or some rent during the coronavirus pandemic.

By a 5-4 vote, the court left in place the nationwide moratorium on evictions issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Alabama Association of Realtors had challenged the moratorium.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday sent a claim of excessive force back to the lower courts for re-examination: The case involved the death of a prisoner held for 15 minutes in a face-down prone position with hands and feet shackled.

The Federal Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit appeared to say that because the prisoner was resisting, his claim was per se invalid. But the Supreme Court, in an unsigned opinion, sent the case back to the lower court for further findings.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to wade into a major controversy over the use of bathrooms by transgender students, delivering at least a temporary victory to the trans community.

The court left in place a lower court decision declaring that local school boards may not require transgender high school students to use bathrooms that correspond to their sex listed at birth.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday sided with the TransUnion credit reporting company, ruling that thousands of consumers whose names were improperly flagged as potential terrorists cannot sue the company for damages.

By a 5-to-4 vote, the court ruled that Congress does not have the power under the Constitution to establish statutory rights and the power to enforce those rights with private lawsuits.

Updated June 23, 2021 at 1:30 PM ET

The Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to dismantle the federal agency that since the Great Recession has overseen the American mortgage giants commonly known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But the court made it easier for the president to remove the agency's head, who until now could only be fired for cause.

Updated June 23, 2021 at 4:48 PM ET

In a victory for student speech rights, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that a former cheerleader's online F-bombs about her school is protected speech under the First Amendment.

Updated June 23, 2021 at 12:31 PM ET

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that police cannot always enter a home without a warrant when pursuing someone for a minor crime.

The court sent the case back to the lower court to decide if the police violated the rights of a California man by pursuing him into his garage for allegedly playing loud music while driving down a deserted two-lane highway late at night.

Updated June 24, 2021 at 7:41 AM ET

The Supreme Court on Wednesday tightened the leash on union representatives and their ability to organize farmworkers in California and elsewhere.

At issue in the case was a California law that allows union organizers to enter farms to speak to workers during nonworking hours — before and after work, as well as during lunch — for a set a number of days each year.

Updated June 21, 2021 at 5:45 PM ET

Faced with the prospect of reshaping college athletics, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a narrow but potentially transformative ruling Monday in a case that pitted college athletes against the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

At issue in the case were NCAA rules that limit educational benefits for college players as part of their scholarships.

Updated June 17, 2021 at 5:04 PM ET

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday sided with Catholic Social Services in a battle that pitted religious freedom against anti-discrimination laws in Philadelphia and across the country. The court declared that the private Catholic agency was entitled to renewal of its contract with the city for screening foster parents, even though the agency violated city law by refusing to consider married LGBTQ couples.

Updated June 17, 2021 at 5:05 PM ET

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act for the third time on Thursday, leaving in place the broad provisions of the law enacted by Congress in 201o. The vote was 7 to 2.

The opinion, written by Justice Stephen Breyer, was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that some crack cocaine offenders sentenced to harsh prison terms more than a decade ago cannot get their sentences reduced under a federal law adopted with the purpose of doing just that.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to consider a challenge to the men-only military draft.

In an accompanying statement, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and Brett Kavanaugh acknowledged that when the draft was originally enacted, women were not eligible for combat roles, a situation that has dramatically changed in modern times.