Law School Site - Case Brief
Felker v. Turpin 518 U.S. 651 (1996)
Ellis Felker filed a petition for writ of
habeas corpus, appellate or certiorari review, and stay of
execution after having his convictions for capital murder, rape,
aggravated sodomy, and false imprisonment affirmed on appeal.
Felker's habeas petition challenged the constitutionality of
Title I of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of
1996 (the "Act"). Title I of the Act requires that all motions
for filing a second or successive habeas appeal from a district
court be reviewed by an appellate panel whose decision shall not
be appealable by writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court.
Do the Act's Title I provisions, preventing
the Supreme Court from reviewing an appellate review panel's
denial of leave to file a second habeas petition,
unconstitutionally "suspend" the habeas writ and restrict the
Court's authority to entertain original habeas petitions?
No. The unanimous Court held that the Act's
creation of an appellate panel, charged with reviewing all
second or successive habeas applications, is not
unconstitutional. The Act simply transfers the duty of habeas
review from the district courts to an appellate panel. While the
Act prevents an appeal to the Court from an appellate panel's
denial of leave to file a second habeas petition, it does not
repeal the Court's authority to entertain original habeas
petitions. Thus, the shift in habeas "gatekeeping" duties to an
appellate panel is neither an unconstitutional "suspension" of
the habeas writ which would violate the Exceptions Clause of
Article III, nor a deprivation of the Court's appellate
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