This article discusses the appropriate standard of review a federal habeas court should use to review a state-court determination of federal law unaccompanied by a federally-based rationale. In other words, what standard of review does the federal court employ when the state court’s opinion is wholly composed of the phrases: “The claims are without merit. Denied.”? The Supreme Court has not explicitly resolved the issue, and various federal judges around the country have reached different opinions. This article argues that a close scrutiny of the controlling habeas corpus statute, relevant case law, and policy considerations leads to the conclusion that such a state-court determination is an adjudication entitled to statutory deference by federal courts.

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2002

Publication Information

29 American Journal of Criminal Law 223-243 (2002)