The decision in the Al-Marri case means the president still has the power to hold 'enemy combatants' indefinitely without charge.
The White House is seeking to protect at least some of its Bush-era privileges.
He ordered the case of enemy combatant Ali Al-Marri, who has been held in solitary confinement for five years without charges, to be moved to the US criminal justice system.
Justices agreed Friday to hear the appeal of terror suspect al-Marri, held without charge for more than five years.
Its new term, which starts Monday, includes cases on detainees and TV language.
The analysis of 107 cases after 9/11 adds fuel to the debate over whether military tribunals are needed.
The Yuri Nosenko affair unveiled US use of extreme isolation to try to 'break' the KGB defector.