Wyden, Merkley Join 13 Senators in Introduction of New Bill to Shine Light on Supreme Court’s Shadow Docket

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today joined 13 senators in introducing new legislation that would bring much-needed transparency to decisions on the U.S. Supreme Court’s emergency docket, also called the “shadow docket.” 

The Shadow Docket Sunlight Act would require a written explanation and vote count for any decision concerning injunctive relief, including decisions on the Supreme Court’s shadow docket, to provide clarity and consistency to judicial decision-making. In addition, the Shadow Docket Sunlight Act would also require the Federal Judicial Center to annually report to Congress on the Court’s compliance with the law.

“Leaving people in the dark on consequential rulings will only lead to a backslide in public trust and U.S. democracy,” said Wyden. “From COVID-19 policies to immigration reform and abortion access, the Supreme Court has continued to push through rushed decisions that can be life-altering and long-lasting. This legislation would reduce ‘shadow docket’ cases and bring the most powerful court in our nation back into the light for Americans to see.”

“The U.S. Supreme Court hands down life-altering decisions on voting rights, reproductive justice, and countless other critical issues that demand transparency in the Court’s decisions,” said Merkley. The current Court is increasingly abusing its shadow docket to chip away at the rights and freedoms of the American people, handing down dangerous decisions under the cover of night and without any explanation or accountability. The Shadow Docket Sunlight Act would bring long-overdue transparency to the Supreme Court by requiring a written explanation and vote count for emergency docket decisions—a win for our democracy and for our rights.”

In addition to Wyden and Merkley, cosponsors in the Senate include U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawai’i), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)

The Shadow Docket Sunlight Act is endorsed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Project on Government Oversight (POGO), Fix the Court, Demand Justice, Stand Up America, and Court Accountability.