The past few years have witnessed a particular accusation leveled repeatedly and loudly at the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority: that they are using the Court’s emergency (or pejoratively, “shadow”) docket to issue highly consequential decisions in a sneaky, secretive fashion. Using data from the Court’s 2021–22 Term and neutral methods, we analyze the entirety of the emergency docket. The results show that conservative interests fare better on the emergency docket, just as they do on the merits docket—no surprise considering the Court’s political orientation. Unsettling as this may be from a liberal or legal-formalist perspective, there is little evidence that any of this is happening in the shadows.

Pablo Das, Lee Epstein & G. Mitu Gulati, Deep in the Shadows?: The Facts About the Emergency Docket, 109 Virginia Law Review Online 49 (2023).