On this week’s episode of Lever Time, David Sirota is joined by law professor Stephen Vladeck, author of the new book, The Shadow Docket: How the Supreme Court Uses Stealth Rulings to Amass Power and Undermine the Republic.

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A transcript of this episode is available here.

The Supreme Court has received a lot of attention in the last several years for its extreme rulings on matters such as abortion rights, environmental regulations, and affirmative action. But there’s another very important court procedure that doesn’t receive nearly as much attention: the aptly named “shadow docket.”

These are the cases that occur outside of the court’s regular docket and usually involve urgent matters, such as requests for emergency stays, injunctions, and other types of temporary relief. These cases are often decided through brief orders, meaning without oral arguments, full written opinions, or even disclosing how the justices voted. But in recent years, the court has increasingly used the shadow docket to effectively leapfrog over the appeals court system on major decisions, sometimes with devastating effects.

David and Stephen dive deep into the shadow docket’s history, how it continues to undermine the Supreme Court’s credibility, and how most of these decisions are not based on any kind of legal rationale or precedent.


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