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The 2005 Term had been surrounded by anticipation and drama, with the appointment of John Roberts as Chief Justice and Samuel A. Alito Jr. to replace Sandra Day O'Connor.
The Court began the 2005 term with a series of important civil liberties cases on its docket involving abortion, free speech, the free exercise of religion, search and seizure, the right to die, military recruiting on university campuses, and disability rights. Other cases involving national security, the constitutionality of military commissions, and campaign finance have been added during the term.
The Roberts Court ended its first year by holding that the system of military tribunals established by the Bush Administration to try Guantánamo detainees violates the Geneva conventions and U.S. law, yet another rebuke to the Administration's efforts to rewrite the legal rules in the guise of fighting terrorism.
Of the term as a whole, the ACLU's national legal director, Steven R. Shapiro, observed, "Thus far, Roberts and Alito have pretty much performed as expected. But in the short run, at least, their votes may be less important on a range of critical issues than Justice Kennedy, who now holds the balance of power on a closely divided Court."