SMNR: The Supreme Court's Shadow Docket

Course Information

Registration Information

Meeting Times

Day Time Location
THU 2:40 - 4:38 pm TNH 2.138

Evaluation Method

Type Date Time Location


This course will be taught in person but with the option of remote participation via Zoom.  Please note that this course might become online-only in the event that actual in-person attendance during the semester consistently falls below a threshold to be determined in the exercise of reasonable discretion by the instructor and the Student Affairs Office.

For all of the attention that law school classes, the press, and the public pay to the Supreme Court's major rulings each Term, we spend far less time on the Court's "shadow docket"that part of the Court's workload that involves ruling on cert. petitions, applications for stays, and other forms of extraordinary or emergency relief. And yet, in recent years, the significance of the shadow docket has grown both in absolute terms and relative to the "merits" side of the Court's work. In this seminar, we will take a (very) deep dive into the shadow dockettracing the evolution of the Court's rules and procedures in which the shadow docket has emerged; studying the substantive areas in which it has become especially significant (including the death penalty, election cases, and applications for emergency relief by the federal government); and exploring the normative desirability of the Justices handing down so many significant rulings with so little reasoning and transparency. Each student will be responsible for preparing a very short (350 words) discussion paper in response to each week's readings; and a formal seminar paper on a topic related to the shadow docket at the end of the semester.

Textbooks ( * denotes required )

No materials required


Log In to View Course Evaluations