The Supreme Court  tossed a lower court's decision to release photos of U.S. soldiers abusing enemy combatants in foreign prisons on Monday.

That ruling, which means the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals must re-examine the case, constitutes a victory for the president, who has insisted recently that the publication and dissemination of the photos could stir anti-American sentiment and endanger U.S. troops fighting abroad.


According to the high bench, changes to federal law spearheaded by the president and the Defense Department permit the White House to block the 44 photographs' release.

Lower courts had ordered the White House to make those documents public in response to the ACLU's Freedom of Information Act inquiry and subsequent lawsuit.

But lawmakers later included in this year's Homeland Security budget bill a provision that would allow Defense Secretary Robert Gates to shield those photos from public scrutiny, a power Gates quickly invoked earlier this month.

"I have determined that public disclosure of these photographs would endanger citizens of the United States, members of the United States Armed Forces, or employees of the United States Government deployed outside the United States," Gates said upon announcing his decision.

The Supreme Court on Monday concluded Gates does have the ability to withhold those photographs, thereby tossing lower courts' rulings. But the bench also instructed the New York-based 2nd Circuit appeals court to open the case again and re-examine the evidence.

Nevertheless, the ACLU has previously revealed to reporters that it would continue fighting the Obama administration on the detainee photos.