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Home / Opinion / 09-587 Harrington v. Richter

09-587 Harrington v. Richter

Habeas Corpus
Standard of review

28 U.S.C. 2254(d) applies to a habeas corpus petition, even though the state court’s order was unaccompanied by an opinion explaining the court’s reasoning.

By its terms, §2254(d) bars relitigation of a claim “adjudicated on the merits” in state court unless, among other exceptions, the earlier state-court “decision” involved “an unreasonable application” of “clearly established Federal law, as determined by” this Court, §2254(d)(1). Nothing in its text-which refers only to a “decision” resulting “from an adjudication”-requires a statement of reasons. Where the state-court decision has no explanation, the habeas petitioner must still show there was no reasonable basis for the state court to deny relief. There is no merit to the assertion that applying§2254(d) when state courts issue summary rulings will encourage those courts to withhold explanations. The issuance of summary dispositions can enable state judiciaries to concentrate resources where most needed.

578 F. 3d 944, reversed and remanded.

09-587 Harrington v. Richter

Kennedy, J.; Ginsburg, J., concurring.

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