Senate Judiciary to Probe Supreme Court “Shadow Docket” After Texas Abortion Ruling

The Senate Judiciary Committee said it will hold hearings on the Supreme Court’s “shadow docket” after it refused to block Texas’ near-total abortion ban, CNN reports.

The committee announced that it will hold hearings examining the Supreme Court’s “abuse of its ‘shadow docket,’” where the court hands down decisions without holding hearings or hearing briefs, and “particularly its order permitting Texas’s extreme new abortion restrictions to take effect this week.”

The court on Wednesday in a 5-4 vote refused to block Texas’ new law banning abortion at around six weeks, before the vast majority of women know they’re pregnant, that will be enforced by a vigilante-style system where anyone can sue anyone who administers an abortion or even helps a woman get an abortion after six weeks, including friends, relatives, or cab drivers.

The Judiciary Committee said it will also look at the court’s “shadow docket” ruling requiring the Biden administration to restore the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy and its order blocking the administration’s eviction moratorium extension.

Committee seizes on dissents:

The Judiciary panel cited Justice Elena Kagan’s dissenting opinion criticizing how the Texas abortion ruling “illustrates just how far the Court's 'shadow-docket' decisions may depart from the usual principles of appellate process. In all these ways, the majority's decision is emblematic of too much of this Court's shadow docket decision-making—which every day becomes more un-reasoned, inconsistent, and impossible to defend.”

Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin said the court “must operate with the highest regard for judicial integrity in order to earn the public’s trust.”

“This anti-choice law is a devastating blow to Americans' constitutional rights—and the Court allowed it to see the light of day without public deliberation or transparency,” he said in a statement. “At a time when public confidence in government institutions has greatly eroded, we must examine not just the constitutional impact of allowing the Texas law to take effect, but also the conservative Court’s abuse of the shadow docket.”

Biden rips “unconstitutional” decision:

President Joe Biden vowed a “whole-of-government” response to the ruling, saying that he would direct the White House Counsel and his Gender Policy Council to involve the Justice Department and Health Department in evaluating what “legal tools we have to insulate women and providers from the impact of Texas' bizarre scheme of outsourced enforcement to private parties.”

Biden said the ruling was an “unprecedented assault on a woman’s constitutional rights under Roe v. Wade”

“Complete strangers will now be empowered to inject themselves in the most private and personal health decisions faced by women,” Biden said. “This law is so extreme it does not even allow for exceptions in the case of rape or incest. And it not only empowers complete strangers to inject themselves into the most private of decisions made by a woman — it actually incentivizes them to do so with the prospect of $10,000 if they win their case.”


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