Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Justin Wedeking


The recent increased use of the shadow docket has left the public and scholars with unanswered questions about how procedures influence outcomes and behavior. Many of these shadow docket cases have been petitioned to the justices as emergencies in very important policy areas such as immigration, abortion, elections, and transgender rights. I collect a large dataset of all outcomes of the Supreme Court's shadow docket from 2010-2022. I examine the language the justices use to justify their decisions made using alternate procedures. I find unique differences in the justifying behavior of the justices as well as significant differences in the amount of justification used over time. To better understand how judges make these emergency decisions, I examine under what conditions Justices agree to grant emergency applications on the docket by examining petitions and outcomes of all emergency cases from 2017-2023. I find that petitioner resources and ideology impacts whether an emergency petition is granted. Finally, I examine how the public reacts to the Court making decisions using alternate procedures. I theorize that procedures matter in changing public opinion of an institution when the procedures are nontransparent, stray from expected norms, and are thus perceived as politically unfair. I administered a survey experiment and find evidence to suggest that use of the shadow docket procedure does lead to less support for decisions as well as an increased support for measures of broad court curbing (e.g., lower legitimacy). The results have important implications for approval of the Court as well as the role of the Court in a transparent democracy.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)