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    • TranquilHaze2 months ago

      In many of those cases, the court summarily overturned lower court rulings using an obscure legal procedure known as the “shadow docket.” But the short-circuit approach, intended only for emergencies, isn’t reserved for death penalty cases.

      Increasingly, the court relies on the shadow docket to make decisions in a wide range of consequential cases, often in a dramatically accelerated fashion and without providing signed opinions or detailed explanations. Sometimes, as in death penalty cases, the decisions are irreversible.

      Cases on the docket can be effectively resolved even as lower courts are continuing to assess them – sometimes even before all the evidence is known. Decisions can come in the middle of the night, with no public discussion and no guidance to lower-court judges on how to analyze similar cases.

      The speed and secretiveness has drawn criticism from legal experts both on the right and left, who call it an improper use of the court’s tremendous power.

      “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”

      Although the shadow docket has long been part of the Supreme Court’s operations, The Trump Justice Department broke norms by repeatedly resorting to these emergency applications to undo the actions of lower courts it disliked – sometimes leapfrogging appeals courts along the way.

      “It felt like really casting aside the normal judicial process in a very, very heavy-handed way,” Minter said.