Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 14 (2000)

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Cite as: 529 U. S. 362 (2000)

Opinion of Stevens, J.

all cases where any person may be restrained of his or her liberty in violation of the constitution, or of any treaty or law of the United States . . . ." Act of Feb. 5, 1867, ch. 28, 1, 14 Stat. 385. Over the years, the federal habeas corpus statute has been repeatedly amended, but the scope of that jurisdictional grant remains the same.7 It is, of course, well settled that the fact that constitutional error occurred in the proceedings that led to a state-court conviction may not alone be sufficient reason for concluding that a prisoner is entitled to the remedy of habeas. See, e. g., Stone v. Powell, 428 U. S. 465 (1976); Brecht v. Abrahamson, 507 U. S. 619 (1993). On the other hand, errors that undermine confidence in the fundamental fairness of the state adjudication certainly justify the issuance of the federal writ. See, e. g., Teague v. Lane, 489 U. S. 288, 311-314 (1989) (quoting Mackey v. United States, 401 U. S. 667, 692-694 (1971) (Harlan, J., concurring in judgments in part and dissenting in part), and quoting Rose v. Lundy, 455 U. S. 509, 544 (1982) (Stevens, J., dissenting)). The deprivation of the right to the effective assistance of counsel recognized in Strickland is such an error. Strickland, 466 U. S., at 686, 697-698.

The warden here contends that federal habeas corpus relief is prohibited by the amendment to 28 U. S. C. 2254 (1994 ed., Supp. III), enacted as a part of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA). The relevant portion of that amendment provides:

7 By Act of Congress: "(a) Writs of habeas corpus may be granted by the Supreme Court, any justice thereof, the district courts and any circuit judge within their respective jurisdictions. . . . (c) The writ of habeas corpus shall not extend to a prisoner unless— . . . (3) He is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States . . . ." 28 U. S. C. 2241(c)(3). In parallel, 2254(a) provides: "The Supreme Court, a Justice thereof, a circuit judge, or a district court shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States."


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