No litigant is entitled to more than two chances, namely, to the original trial and to a review, and the intermediate courts of review are provided for that purpose. When a case goes beyond that, it is not primarily to preserve the rights of the litigants. The Supreme Court’s function is for the purpose of expounding and stabilizing principles of law for the benefit of the people of the country, passing upon constitutional questions and other important questions of law for the public benefit.
—Chief Justice William Taft 1
The success of Williams’s petition of habeas corpus before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals did not mean that Williams was automatically released from the Iowa State Penitentiary at Fort Madison, Iowa where he was serving his sentence. On February 6, 1975, the court of appeals issued an order staying its mandate that Williams be released until after the State of Iowa’s request that the Supreme Court review the case was resolved. Williams’s fate was thus placed into the hands of the Supreme Court in the case of Brewer v. Williams. 2 Because the Supreme Court is asked to review thousands of cases each year, its schedule does not allow it to hear all of the cases that it is petitioned to review. Therefore, just because the State of Iowa was requesting the Supreme Court to review the Williams case did not guarantee it a hearing before the High Court.
By 1977 when Brewer v. Williams was granted certiorari, the Court, under the direction of Chief Justice Burger, had shown a willingness to narrow