SMNR: The Supreme Court's Shadow Docket

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Meeting Times

Day Time Location
THU 2:15 - 4:05 pm JON 6.207

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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, COVID-related religious liberty disputes, 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


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