May 29, 2024

Whitehouse, Blumenthal, Schumer, & Colleagues Introduce New Legislation to Shine Light on the Supreme Court’s Shadow Docket

Washington, DC — U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Courts Subcommittee, has joined Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) in introducing new legislation to bring transparency to decisions on the Supreme Court’s emergency docket, also called the “shadow docket.”

The Shadow Docket Sunlight Act requires a written explanation and vote count for any decision concerning injunctive relief, including decisions on the Supreme Court’s shadow docket, to provide clarity and consistency to judicial decision-making.  In addition to requiring the Supreme Court to provide a written explanation for shadow docket decisions and to indicate how each justice voted on the decision by providing a vote count, the Shadow Docket Sunlight Act also requires the Federal Judicial Center to report to Congress annually on the Court’s compliance with the law.

“The Roberts Court’s increasing use of the shadow docket makes it easier for this captured Court to quietly deliver for right-wing donors and Republican special interests without any meaningful transparency or public process.  This is yet another area where this Court has gone astray by exploiting a lack of strict, enforceable guidelines, so Congress should step in to create a stronger system of accountability,” said Whitehouse.

The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The Shadow Docket Sunlight Act is endorsed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Project on Government Oversight, Fix the Court, Demand Justice, Stand Up America, and Court Accountability.

Text of the legislation can be found here.

Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921