Chief Justice John Roberts is a complex and subtly innovative jurist. The Supreme Court’s census decision revealed his skills, particularly seen against the backdrop of the gerrymandering case decided the same day. His ruling against the executive may actually strengthen deference to executive discretion when wielded by a future normal presidency, but in his decisive opinion (joined in full by no other justice), Roberts also refined a neglected counterdeference tool—pretext analysis.
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Two weeks ago, the U.S. military received custody of an as-yet unnamed American citizen who had been captured in Syria by a Syrian Defense Force (SDF) fighter. The Pentagon soon confirmed that the person is being held in military detention as an enemy combatant, somewhere in theater, on the basis that he was a fighter for the Islamic State. Many days had gone by without further information, until today.