Shedding Light on the Roberts Court Shadow Docket
17 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2022
Date Written: August 27, 2022
Despite its recent fame the Supreme Court’s “shadow docket” is poorly understood. We describe the range of activities that fall under that moniker and present novel data to enable study of this overlooked part of the Court’s work. We show that the Roberts Court is granting more emergency relief orders while simultaneously generating more public dissent from justices. We also provide evidence of ideological decision-making on the shadow docket. Additionally, we draw attention to a previously ignored component of the shadow docket: the Court’s use of orders to shape the contours of cases on the merits docket. We show that the Roberts Court regularly changes the questions to be answered in merits cases in ways that have major implications for both real-world policy and theories of judicial behavior. We conclude by showing how these data can inform broader studies of the Supreme Court involving ideology, amici, opinion bargaining, and more.
Keywords: Supreme Court, shadow docket, ideal point estimation
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