Democrats Will Hold Hearings On Supreme Court’s Use Of Shadow Docket

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 03: U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil M. Gorsuch and Associate Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh (Photo by Jabin Botsford - Pool/Getty Images)
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September 3, 2021 10:40 a.m.

Both the Senate and House Judiciary Committees have announced that they will hold hearings into the Supreme Court’s use of the shadow docket shortly after the Court virtually outlawed abortion in Texas through the expedited forum. 

“This anti-choice law is a devastating blow to Americans’ constitutional rights—and the Court allowed it to see the light of day without public deliberation or transparency,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Dubin (D-IL) said in a statement. “At a time when public confidence in government institutions has greatly eroded, we must examine not just the constitutional impact of allowing the Texas law to take effect, but also the conservative Court’s abuse of the shadow docket.”

Neither committee has yet announced the dates of the hearings.

The shadow docket was previously used for cases that require immediate action, like death penalty decisions. But the Court’s conservative majority has grown increasingly comfortable using it to decide complex, oftentimes controversial decisions without full briefings, oral arguments or any public transparency.

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At midnight on Wednesday, a 5-4 majority of the Court let the Texas abortion ban stand with one, unsigned paragraph. The Texas law is the country’s most restrictive anti-abortion law. It bans the procedure post-six weeks, before many know that they’re pregnant, and deputizes individuals to identify women who’ve had abortions and to sue any person who “aided and abetted” or intends to aid and abet the procedure. 

In the last couple weeks alone before the Texas decision, the conservative majority used the shadow docket to insist that the Biden administration restore former President Donald Trump’s “remain in Mexico” policy for asylum seekers and end the federal extension of the eviction moratorium. 

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