The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the Supreme Court’s use of the so-called “shadow docket” — a method of issuing brief late-night rulings on key cases like the Texas abortion law.
“The Supreme Court must operate with the highest regard for judicial integrity in order to earn the public’s trust,” Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin, who is also the Senate majority whip, said in a statement. “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.”
“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,” he continued.
On Wednesday, the high court declined to block a Texas law dubbed the “heart beat bill,” which bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. The court didn’t issue a formal opinion, instead releasing a short unsigned ruling.
The ruling is an example of a shadow docket ruling, or a “short-circuit” approach that the Supreme Court has taken for deciding an increasing number of time-sensitive and high-profile cases, according to Reuters. Legal experts have harshly criticized the use of the shadow docket, arguing it allows the court to quietly rule on major cases.
“It’s hard for the public to know what is going on, and it’s hard for the public to trust that the court is doing its best work,” conservative University of Chicago Law School professor William Baude told Reuters.
While liberal media outlets reported that the Supreme Court “effectively overturned” and “gutted” Roe v. Wade, the court merely allowed the law to be enforced pending further legal challenges. The majority said plaintiffs challenging the law didn’t successfully meet the burden required for the court to block the legislation.
“The majority’s decision is emblematic of too much of this Court’s shadow docket decision-making — which every day becomes more un-reasoned, inconsistent, and impossible to defend,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote in her scathing dissenting opinion.