Since last night’s news [5/2/22] has been running like wildfire about the “leak” of a draft of a decision by the Supreme Court that allegedly overturns the infamous 1973 abortion decision Roe v. Wade and its 1992 companion decision Planned Parenthood v Casey. Here at Catholic Action, our attitude toward this leak is a simple one: realistic hope with extreme caution.
There are a number of things to consider about the leak itself.
First, in a highly polarized political environment where information is used to punish and malign people’s reputations, we’ve grown used to leaks of sensitive and classified information. This doesn’t make them right. The person who leaked this information is guilty of a serious violation of public trust and possibly a criminal act. A writer at Breitbart News called this “one of the greatest scandals to ever hit the nation’s highest court,” and he is right. I for one am tired of our government being run by people who lack any shred of integrity or concern for the common good.
Second, leaks are routinely used by the radical left to shape public opinion, to intimidate, or to create expectations that further their agendas. We can never trust information that is leaked like this because it is partial and likely jaded by politics. In this case, it seems clear that the leak is an effort to intimidate the Justices in favor of overturning Roe with the prospect of a public backlash. While the leaked document may turn out to be a faithful snapshot of the real decision, we must reserve judgment until the truth of the matter is revealed. Leaks are not the whole truth, and are often despicable manipulations.
Third, for those who are rejoicing at the prospect of ending Roe, we have to caution that it is way too early to presume the matter is concluded or even settled. Supreme Court opinions circulate among the members in drafts and in a long consultative process before they are issued as final judgments. Draft opinions are sometimes the subject of intense negotiations up to the very day they are issued with members withholding their votes until the final hour. Only the final decision matters.
Chief Justice John Roberts’s last-minute manipulation of the Obamacare decision was just the most obvious example of how flimsy the decisions, and the Justices, can be until the very end. Essentially, it isn’t over ‘til it’s over.
While the high court supposedly has a majority who are sympathetic to overturning Roe – a decision that has caused the deaths of 60 million unborn innocents – its reversal is not guaranteed, and we should be extremely cautious of a premature birth of enthusiasm before the decision is officially released at the end of the Court’s session (likely sometime in June.)
More realistically, we watch, we wait in hope…and we pray.