Cheney, along with his chief of staff, David S. Addington, has devoted much of his time to regaining presidential powers that the vice president has said have deteriorated too far in the decades after the Watergate scandal.
"I don't see how anybody inside the White House could look at the broadest range of decisions that have been made and say anything other than that they've gained at least 85 yards down the field," said Norman J. Ornstein, an American Enterprise Institute scholar on executive-legislative relations.
"If you gain 85 yards and suffer one sack," he added, "you're still winning the game."
Douglas Kmiec, a Pepperdine University law professor, picked up Ornstein's football analogy, referring to the ruling as a "forced fumble" but saying that where the ball might go remained unclear.
"I don't think that means he's going to change the substance of the process much," Kmiec said of Bush. "That puts the ball that's loose in Congress' hands. Will they go in the same direction? There will be an enormous temptation to go home in the summer and put off action."