OPINION: The Dangers of the “Shadow Docket”


The Dangers of the Shadow Docket 


The conservative court is using the shadow docket to hide their partisan decisions.

OPINION: The Shadow Docket And It’s Fundamental Danger

The shadow docket consists of cases taken up on an emergency basis, outside the scope of the courts normal procedural order. . . .

By D. S. Mitchell

Partisan And Controversial Decisions

Recently it has been noted that the current court has disproportionately used the shadow docket to authorize its most partisan and controversial decisions. Nearly all of the court’s Covid-19 decisions have come from the shadow docket, specifically, both of its rulings on the CDC eviction moratorium came through this dark little understood process.

An Unsigned Opinion  

In August SCOTUS handed Biden a shocking ruling. The court ordered Biden to re-instate Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” program. Where did this ability suddenly manifest itself? The court has no authority over treaties with foreign governments. None. The outrage came in a single one paragraph unsigned opinion. The opinion gave no insight into the logic supporting the court’s decision to upend the constitutional separation of powers.  The court is now looking at the Texas abortion law. I’d call it a bit late. Less than a month ago the same court refused to take up the case, initially attempting to hide behind the shadow docket.

What We Expect

We fantasize the nine justices in their solemn black robes hearing robust debate in open court in front of spectators. Those venerable heads taking in the arguments  between opposing attorneys and ideologies, giving deliberate consideration to the legal issues of each individual cases. And then after long discussion, they issue their decisions to the world in long wordy opinions. But, that’s not what is happening folks. This heavily conservative court has slipped into a shadow zone, a place where justices lack the courage to sign their names to their own rulings.

Here’s How It Works

Here’s how it works. Lawyers are allowed to submit expedited briefs to make their “emergency” arguments, but they are not allowed to argue in person, in full view of the press and the public. These decisions don’t come after months of deliberation amongst the justices, but quickly and through whatever informal conversations the justices give time to the matter. Usually they don’t bother to explain to litigants the law or logic behind their decrees, instead issuing an order often amounting to a mere few sentences.

My Thoughts On The Matter

The conservative members of SCOTUS appear to be operating in bad faith, not  even bothering to make up legal reasons for their partisan hackery. Under “emergency” rulings the court is making up policy. Courts do not make policy. That is not their role. Unsurprisingly the policy this court concocts melds nicely with the Republican party’s political agenda. Using the shadow docket the court is attempting to cover it’s actions.

Hitting The Talk Shows

Recently several of the sitting justices, hearing angry rumblings across the country have taken to the airwaves. Their recent appearances across media platforms make it clear that the justices have noted that the public view of the supreme court is at its lowest level in decades. When you have justices making speeches at colleges and going on TV claiming they “are not partisan hacks” you can damn well be assured they know the public is on to them.

The Real Danger

The power now wielded by unelected conservative justices is unnerving to me, and should be worrisome to anyone, no matter their place on the political spectrum. Just to point out, any Executive Order signed by the president, any law passed by Congress can be undone in the dark of night, without reason or explanation. Since the Democrats lack the spine to proceed with court reform we can expect the six conservative judges to hold veto power over the Democrats entire political agenda.  Not just this year, or next, but for decades to come.

OPINION: Equal Opportunity Offense

We spend a lot of time arguing about conservative vs liberal

OPINION: Equal Opportunity Offense

By I. B. Freely 

“To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” Voltaire

Changing Definitions

Things aren’t always as they seem, particularly with definitions changing over time. Nowhere is this truer than in politics. Hardly a week goes by without a ‘no true Scotsman’ fallacy being hurled at one side of the aisle or the other. At least part of the problem is one of definition.


The modern understandings of ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ are, slightly bastardized, adaptations of neutral descriptors, as in a ‘conservative wager’ and a ‘liberal sprinkling.’ The former generally used to denote restraint and the latter excess. Whether it is positive or a negative depends on the situation, an excess of freedom generally considered a good thing. An irony coming into play when one considers that those calling themselves ‘conservative’ advocate for the excesses of a free market economy and those labeling themselves ‘liberals’ support restraint in terms of access to firearms.

Us and Them

Another example of conflict comes in the forms of identity politics and who it is ‘okay’ to criticize. My fellow liberals aren’t going to like to hear this but the idea of ‘protected classes’ shows restraint as reflected in functional conservatism. What we are saying in terms of merging social equality with protected classes is “we are all equal, except for them, don’t dare even criticize them.” An attitude very much in line with the most staunch monarchists who, at least historically, have been in stark opposition to those calling themselves liberals.

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OPINION: Watching Democracy Die


Watching Democracy Die

By D. S. Mitchell

Wisconsin Outrage

Television images captured thousands of voters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin standing in three block long lines, face masks in place, showered intermittently with hail and rain, risking exposure to COVID-19; to exercise their right to vote. This did not need to happen. This should not have happened. Voting should not be an obstacle course. Voting should be one of the easiest things, we as citizens, ever do. It should be as easy as licking an envelope. The vote by mail push is meeting stiff resistance from the far right, particularly from Donald Trump. The politicians fear it would endanger their grip on power. Republicans in Wisconsin, and other states have used voter suppression to shrink the electorate and limit access to the polls for decades.


I was disgusted at the sight of what was happening in Wisconsin. Furious to my core. So angry, I was crying. Tears are not always shed in weakness, or defeat. Some tears are a physical manifestation of a rage so great that when held back can lead to plate smashing, door slamming, and window breaking. At other times tears are shed because the injustice of events is beyond the understanding of the human heart. In 2018, according to the Brennan Center For Justice “17 million Americans, or 8% of the nation’s electorate, were removed from voting rolls.” The clear intent was to deny particular segments of the population the right to vote.

The Whigs

In the first days of our country there was no such thing as voter registration; white men just showed up and voted. In the mid 1800’s voter registration laws began to emerge. These laws, were designed to limit participation, not encourage involvement.  One of the first voter registration laws in the country was written by New York state Whigs. The Whigs wanted to limit the voting power of Irish Catholic voters in New York City. The Irish were mostly Democratic party voters. But, the Whigs had a plan, and the legislative power to suppress the power of the growing Irish Catholic vote.

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KOCH BROS: Corruption & Hypocrisy

By Trevor McNeil & D.S. Mitchell

Kernel of Truth

The old adage that “only the good die young” was confirmed with the death of David Koch at the age of 79.  David Koch, and brother Charles, formed the two-headed demon that led one of the most unethical and unprincipled companies in modern memory.  Which is saying something with the likes of Enron as competition. Though, to be fair, like them or hate them, no one at Enron, as far as is known, used their vast fortune to fund and push for extreme hard right libertarian political ideology of small government and anti-regulation to transform U.S. government policy.

The Company We Keep

A group of hard Right, hyper-“patriotic”, pseudo-Christians emerged with the Obama election. These folks identified themselves as the “Tea Party”.  They were a cranky group of hustlers and howlers who seem to think the parable goes “turn the other cheek; and then pull a Glock”. A bit of a turn on the standard evangelical prayer group.

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News That Bites: Try A Little Kindness

Try A Little Kindness

By David L. Shadrick

Hello and welcome to Calamity Politics and “News That Bites” with David Shadrick and Calamity Clown.  Calamity has stood us up. She sent me a note scribbled on the back of a Nancy Pelosi fund raising letter telling me she intended to spend the afternoon curled up in Bernie Sanders’ lap, while he reads his “Medicare4All” plan aloud. 

It Ain’t Easy

This is probably the hardest article I have ever tried to write.  It shouldn’t be that hard to simply remind everyone that we all need to be a little bit nicer to each other.  As the world around us experiences the chaos that is existence, we need to remember to take a few extra minutes to embrace kindness, as a life choice.

Reserve Your Condemnation

When I do fundraising I often times have to remind volunteers not to become agitated or angry when someone doesn’t make a donation, or worse, is disrespectful.  I remind them that there are so many charities begging for money; and people have limited resources. I know what it’s like to be on a fund raisers platinum mailing list.

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The Fatal Flaw Of Conservatism

By T. K. McNeil

Divided Amongst Itself

It is a fact often observed, but no less true, that America is a divided country. What is often lost is that it has always been this way. A degree of partisanship is at the very basis of a healthy democracy. Otherwise, everyone might as well vote for the same person or party, like Russia. For democracy to be at its very best there needs to be a choice with a clear difference.  There is, however, a fatal flaw of Conservatism.

Fatal Flaws

What people are taking note of in America today is just how stark the differences have become. Political disagreements and street protests often devolve into  fatal violence. This despite the clear weaknesses of the ideals of liberalism and the more subtle but fatal flaw of conservatism.

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Die, Die, Die

By D. S. Mitchell

My World

Calamity Politics is a political blog that presents the world as I see it. I am hard on the Republicans, but they deserve it. My political comments today center around the ACA and the Republican attempt to restore pre-Obama times.

A Healthy Citizen

Everybody in this crowd wants to go backward. What the fuck, is going on in their heads. A healthy citizenry is one of the best resources a country has at its core. Every civilized western country has health care for all. No questions, no arguments, it is a recognized right of citizenry.

The Grand Lie

Why is that concept so difficult for American politicians to embrace. This great, grand lie, that we make it on our own is some dime novelists idea of the American ideal. The fact is, we have a lot of sick people in this country that cannot pay the exorbitant cost of health care, or health insurance without government help.

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