WASHINGTON, D.C., September 29, 2021 – Today the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing to discuss the Supreme Court’s ruling allowing a clearly unconstitutional ban on abortion to take effect in Texas. The Court issued its ruling through the “shadow docket,” meaning the ruling was issued in dead of night with minimal briefing and no oral argument, and the Court delivered its ruling in an unsigned, one paragraph decision with little explanation.
Traditionally the shadow docket has been relatively noncontroversial because it was predominantly used only for procedural decisions. In recent years, however, the Court’s ultraconservative justices have used the shadow docket to decide very controversial cases — the outcomes of which have negatively impacted the health and safety of millions of people. In addition to the Texas abortion cases, for instance, the Supreme Court’s ultraconservative bloc recently used the shadow docket to issue partisan rulings putting millions of families at risk of homeless during the COVID pandemic by ending the CDC’s eviction moratorium or forcing the Biden administration to revive President Trump’s unlawful “Remain in Mexico” policy.
Given the Court’s willingness to implement monumental change without explaining the merits of its rulings, hearings like today’s are essential to determine how to hold the Court publicly accountable for its increasingly lawless behavior.
Alliance for Justice President Rakim Brooks issued the following statement:
“We applaud Chairman Durbin for convening this important discussion on the shadow docket. This Supreme Court’s conservative, Republican majority is cynically using the Court’s power to enact a partisan and unpopular agenda. It is clear the American people cannot sit idly by. All options must be on the table, including imposing a Code of Ethics that applies to the Supreme Court, the implementation of term limits, and restoring balance to the Court through expansion.”