Vickie Samuelson: Court uses ‘Shadow Docket’ to take away women’s right to choose

Rights of Roe v Wade should be enacted into law by Congress.

(Manuel Balce Ceneta | AP photo) This Oct. 4, 2018, photo shows the U.S. Supreme Court at sunset in Washington.

Women’s rights just took a huge step backwards in the gutting of Roe v Wade in Texas. This took my breath away as I’m sure it did others, all because the United States Supreme Court failed to intervene on Texas’ new abortion bill.

While this is a shock and I’m confident it’s unconstitutional, it’s the way this was done that should be a big concern to not only to women but to everyone.

The “Shadow Docket” is a term used by legal observers to describe the use of emergency orders and summary decisions by the SCOTUS without the opportunity of oral argument. The Shadow Docket decisions are made when the court believes an applicant will suffer “irreparable harm” if the request is not immediately granted. These decisions are generally only a few sentences long, unsigned and are preceded by little to no oral arguments. This was only rarely used for rulings of serious legal or political significance, but since 2017 it has been increasingly utilized for consequential rulings.

The Texas’ law that guts Roe v Wade should have had the full process of the highest court in this land to decide after oral arguments on the constitutionality of the law.

Also the law now pits Texans against one another by allowing everyday citizens to turn in any person they think is helping a women get an abortion in hopes of getting a $10,000 reward. The accused could be your best friend, husband, mother — whomever. Can you imagine?

Roe v Wade provided for the right to privacy that protects women’s right to choose. This bill just adds more reason to divide this country even more than it already is. This completely puts women under a microscope starting at child-bearing age.

No law should ever be decided by a Shadow Docket that has this kind of impact on our lives and that guts a law in the U.S. Constitution.

One way to combat this law is to have a national law that covers reproductive rights for all states to protect rights to privacy. Such a bill — the Women’s Health Protection Act — is being proposed by Rep. Judy Chu, D-California, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut. This law will put reproductive rights into national law and get us women out from under that damned microscope.

Vickie Samuelson | Co-President, League of Women Voters Utah

Vickie Samuelson, West Valley City, is retired and now a volunteer for various nonprofit groups.

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