Solicitor General Rues

High Court Decisions

Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson used his final day as the Bush administration's top Supreme Court lawyer to lament the court's decision siding with foreign terrorism suspects over the president.

He said yesterday that the court term that ended last week held no good news for conservatives, especially the ruling that opened U.S. courts to "enemy combatants" being held at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"U.S. courts . . . have never been extended so far," Olson told members of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group.

Olson, whose wife, Barbara, died in the plane that crashed into the Pentagon during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, had argued before the justices that the president needed broad powers to hold and interrogate foreigners who might pose threats without giving them access to courts.

The Supreme Court disagreed, 6 to 3, and handed the Bush administration a separate loss in ruling that U.S. citizens being held as enemy combatants in the United States also cannot be denied legal rights.

He said the rulings on the president's wartime powers appear to overrule World War II-era Supreme Court decisions that gave the White House broad authority.

"The justices of this court, I submit, are keenly sensitive that the court's human rights precedents have not, in retrospect, been perceived as the court's finest hours," Olson said.

For the Record

* The White House will miss a frequently ignored legal deadline for updating its federal deficit forecast. Chad Kolton, spokesman for the White House budget office, said the report will be issued sometime after the July 15 deadline. There is no legal consequence for being late, which has occurred in 15 of the past 25 years. With signs of a resurgent economy and growing federal revenue, the summer update is expected to project that this year's shortfall will be well below the $521 billion the White House forecast in February, but the deficit still could be in the $450 billion range.

* Senate Republicans opened debate on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, highlighting their differences with Democrats on the emotionally charged matter. The amendment aims to settle conflicts in state legislatures and courts over the issue by adding language to the Constitution that states, "Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman." Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said Republicans were using the Constitution as "a bulletin board for campaign sloganeering." Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.), who drafted the amendment, conceded that it is supported by about half the Senate -- well less than the two-thirds needed to approve a change in the Constitution.

* A House committee approved $311 million to help victims of war and famine in Sudan as Congress took its latest step to deal with what the United Nations says is the world's most dire humanitarian crisis. In a mark of the bipartisan support behind the initiative, the money was barely mentioned as the House Appropriations Committee approved a $19.4 billion foreign aid bill for next year. The panel approved the measure, including the Sudan money, by voice vote.

* Andrea Grubb Barthwell, deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy since 2002, resigned to explore a run for the U.S. Senate from Illinois in place of Jack Ryan, the Republican nominee who dropped out over sex-club allegations. Barthwell is a physician from Chicago.

-- From News Services