The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday issued an “emergency” ruling in the high-stake case Louisiana v. American Rivers, reversing a lower court’s order blocking a Trump-era water rule that makes it easier for corporations to dump pollutants into navigable rivers.
The ruling, which will stand at least until the Ninth Circuit decides whether to take up an appeal of that order, “marks yet another controversial use by the Republican-appointed justices of what legal experts call the ‘shadow docket’ — using the emergency relief process to summarily overrule lower courts or laws without any public argument or justification for doing so,” noted The Washington Post.
“Normally, the Court will hear oral arguments, deliberate, and issue an opinion on their reasoning, but ever since Republicans took a six-justice majority, the Court has increasingly skipped all of that on more substantive issues,” The Post added before highlighting “one unusual” development that happened in this case.
In a surprising move, conservative Chief Justice John Roberts “joined the dissent from liberal Justice Elena Kagan condemning the court’s alleged abuse of the shadow docket — a potential sign that he, too, is growing annoyed by the right-wing justices’ use of emergency orders,” the news outlet reported.
“The applicants here have not met our standard because they have failed to substantiate their assertions of irreparable harm,” said Kagan’s dissent. “By nonetheless granting relief, the Court goes astray. It provides a stay pending appeal, and thus signals its view of the merits, even though the applicants have failed to make the irreparable harm showing we have traditionally required. That renders the Court’s emergency docket not for emergencies at all. The docket becomes only another place for merits determinations — except made without full briefing and argument.”
The “shadow docket” has been used by right-wing justices to approve draconian legislations like the Texas abortion law banning almost all terminations after six weeks and deputizing private citizens to sue anyone not in compliance.
Congressional have vowed to investigate the practice.
Read more at The Washington Post.