Congress Finally Scrutinizes One of the Supreme Court’s Most Disturbing Practices

Mark Joseph Stern in Slate –

The House’s interest in the shadow docket is an encouraging sign that at least some members of Congress want to exercise their own constitutional powers to help fix the Supreme Court. It’s easy to forget that the democratic branches of government have real power over the federal judiciary.

Congress can force the Supreme Court to hear certain cases and prevent it from hearing others; it created the lower courts and gave them authority to decide a wide array of controversies, a privilege it can also strip away.

In 1996, for instance, Congress revoked federal courts’ power to hear many lawsuits filed by state prisoners. Back then, lawmakers decided that courts were granting relief to too many people behind bars, so it took away the tools judges needed to safeguard due process.

Progressives hate that law, and rightly so, but it’s a reminder that Congress can rein in a judiciary that it perceives to be out of control. Will Democrats take advantage of that power now that they hold Congress and the White House?


About Radnor Reports

Ken Feltman is past-president of the International Association of Political Consultants and the American League of Lobbyists. He is retired chairman of Radnor Inc., an international political consulting and government relations firm in Washington, D.C. Known as a coalition builder, he has participated in election campaigns and legislative efforts in the United States and several other countries.
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