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The Supreme Court’s “shadow docket” is in the spotlight
Jun 6, 2023
Episode 939

The Supreme Court’s “shadow docket” is in the spotlight

Why these unsigned, unexplained orders matter more than ever.

It’s that time of year when the Supreme Court issues a bunch of important decisions on high-profile cases before its summer recess. But it turns out there’s a whole other docket of decisions that usually fly under the radar.

It’s called the emergency docket, or “shadow docket.” And the use of this lesser-known docket is changing the way the Supreme Court engages with wide-reaching, often divisive issues, and shaping law on the ground.

“We’re seeing every big fight in contemporary American public policy getting to the Supreme Court faster through these emergency applications, and provoking the justices to take a position sooner because of these emergency applications,” said Stephen Vladeck, law professor at the University of Texas and author of the new book “The Shadow Docket: How the Supreme Court Uses Stealth Rulings to Amass Power and Undermine the Republic.”

On the show today, Vladeck explains what the shadow docket is, why emergency decisions by the Supreme Court have become more common over the past decade, and what this all means for the credibility of the court in the eyes of the American public.

In the News Fix: Speaking of the Supreme Court, we’ll get into how its upcoming decision on affirmative action could muddle diversity efforts at colleges across the country. And we’ll explain why pharmaceutical companies are pushing back against the new Medicare drug price negotiation program.

Later, listeners weigh in on local dog bars and virtual reality headsets. Plus, this week’s answer to the Make Me Smart question comes from singer, songwriter and condiment lover, Priska Neely.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

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The team

Marissa Cabrera Senior Producer
Marque Greene Associate Producer