The U.S. Supreme Court has concluded its oral argument in Jones v. Hendrix. The question is whether federal prisoners who have already had an appeal and one or more collateral reviews of their convictions can use the “saving clause” of 28 U.S.C. §2255(e) to bring habeas corpus petitions in certain cases in which Congress has forbidden a successive 2255 petition.
The claim is that 2255(e) preserves claims that were traditionally cognizable in habeas despite the 1996 amendment that limited successive petitions. It is difficult to make a prediction from argument. Several of the justices said little or nothing. However, I was encouraged that some justices questioned what point in habeas history we should be looking at. The availability of habeas corpus has varied widely throughout history. The kind of claim at issue in this case would not have been cognizable in early America, as documented in our brief in this case.
The audio recording and the transcript of argument will be available on the Court’s website later today.