ISSUE BRIEF (ACS): The Roberts Court, the Shadow Docket, and the Unraveling of Voting Rights Remedies

Published originally by the American Constitution Society

Year in and year out, the Supreme Court’s major rulings in argued cases generate outsized attention. But the Supreme Court’s merits docket is just half the story. This past year, some of the most important decisions came in unsigned, and sometimes unexplained, orders related to whether to stay a lower court’s ruling; this part of the Court’s docket has been called the “shadow docket” because it frequently goes unnoticed.

Summary

Through these cursory orders, the Roberts Court has been rewriting the rules of our democracy to prevent courts from vindicating the right to vote in an election year. Even as our nation is battling a deadly pandemic that has made exercising the right to vote more difficult, the Roberts Court is closing the courthouse doors on citizens seeking to vindicate the right to vote when it matters most.

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