What’s Going On With The Supreme Court’s Shadow Docket

(JustPatriots.com)- The Supreme Court approved a business-friendly and anti-environmental Trump-era rule earlier this week. Rolling Stone laments that the decision was made using the court’s “shadow docket.” They worry that The Supreme Court’s secretive rulings have increased in recent years.

The Supreme Court usually works in this manner: A party appeals to the Supreme Court once two lower courts have ruled on the case. Both sides have filed documents contending that the Supreme Court should hear the matter. The parties then file additional papers urging the Supreme Court to rule in their favor if the issue is decided to be heard by the court. Unrelated individuals and organizations can file “amicus briefs,” which provide an independent perspective on the case. The court subsequently hears oral arguments, and attorneys present their arguments to the Justices. The court then makes its decision, which is accompanied by opinions. The decision may take days, months, or even years.

The use of emergency orders and summary rulings by the Supreme Court of the United States without oral argument is known as the shadow docket.

The shadow docket is a departure from the norm. Such matters receive relatively limited briefings and are usually determined within a week or less of the filing. In most cases, the procedure culminates in brief, unsigned decisions.
It is utilized when the Court thinks an applicant will suffer “irreparable injury” if their motion isn’t granted right away. For example, a death row appeal before execution.

On October 21, 2021, a federal trial court decided against one of Former President Trump’s environmental rules and the case was appealed. On February 24, a federal appeals court determined that the lower court injunction would stay in effect while the issue was being decided. The parties appealed to the Supreme Court on March 21 without giving the lower court a chance to settle the matter. The parties then submitted three further challenges over the next nine days. Then, on April 6, the Supreme Court decided, without debate, that President Trump’s regulation should be reinstated. The Court’s unsigned decision specified only that the restriction would be reinstated while the matter was being appealed.

Rolling Stone derides the decision because they feel it was not correctly done, as
the lower appeals court was not allowed to rule on the matter initially. There was just one set of briefs submitted. Further, there was no way for the general public to submit briefs, and The Supreme Court never heard oral arguments.

Justice Elena Kagan criticized the court’s decision in her dissent. Chief Justice John Roberts, who The Rolling Stone refers to as a Conservative, agreed with Justice Kagan.
And they fear he will not stop what Rolling Stone laughingly calls an “ultraconservative Supreme Court” from abusing its power.