GIBSON: Draft opinion leak foreshadows new battles ahead

FILE - Members of the Supreme Court pose for a group photo at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. Seated from left are Associate Justice Samuel Alito, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer and Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Standing from left are Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch and Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP, Pool, File)

I grew up in the long-shadow of Roe. I learned law with the jaded knowledge and dashed hopes of Casey. I never thought I would see the day the Supreme Court would undo those twin evils. 

I also never thought I would see the day the Supreme Court would leak a draft opinion. 

This is monumental, gigantic, extraordinary; I could exhaust a thesaurus of synonyms and still not say enough.  What do we make of all this? 

It is too early to say—especially since the opinion is only a draft—but let me offer four brief thoughts. 

First, don’t take this at face value; keep your eye on the ball. It would be foolish to speculate on who leaked this and why. But the justices and clerks of the United States Supreme Court are all immensely intelligent people. Whoever leaked it knew what they were doing and had a motive. It’s hard to imagine they did this for any reason other than influencing the Court’s ultimate decision. Perhaps that is through stirring up public outcry against overturning Roe. Perhaps it is to make the Court gutting—but not overturning—Roe look more moderate. Perhaps—and I think this is most likely—it is to influence the Senate. The Senate is finely balanced. A strong gust of wind could push Maine Sen. Susan Collins or any other moderate into the maelstrom of abolishing the filibuster and packing the Court. Let’s pray none of this comes to pass and this draft becomes a published opinion. 

Second, if this is actually a draft opinion, and it certainly looks like one, whoever leaked it must pay a high price. Justices hold office during “good behavior.” Leaking internal court documents is not good behavior, and we should at least consider impeachment here. I’ve worked in the North Carolina Supreme Court and argued cases there. All appellate courts rely on confidential drafts and memos to deliberate about cases. Leaking those breaks crucial trust between the justices, pushing them to further partisan partitioning. Imagine if the justices only circulated drafts to others they thought agreed with them. The Court would lose much of the give and take their opinions show. Just as importantly, this is another step along the path to the Supreme Court becoming Judge Judy in the eyes of the public. Our ridiculous confirmation hearings are a disgrace to our Republic. Until now, the Court has largely kept itself outside such shameful antics. We need to unite to send a clear message that we the People will not tolerate such folly from our highest judges or their clerks. 

Third, this is not the end for the pro-life movement. To borrow Churchill, it is not even the beginning of the end—but it is the end of the beginning. If abortion legislation is returned to the States, then we have many legislative battles ahead. Many in the Republican Party say a lot about pro-life issues. The time has come to see if they will act as well as they talk.  If the Court overturns Roe, the North Carolina General Assembly will likely consider legislation on abortion pills, allowing family members to sue abortionists, and perhaps even a fetal heartbeat bill. These votes may be determined by pro-life Democrats or moderate Republicans who will toe the party line but are not actively pro-life.  Call your legislator. Tell them this matters. If Roe is gone, don’t let this session go by without action. 

Fourth, now is the time to invest in pro-life organizations. Ending Roe will curb abortion but it will not end it. Women will still become pregnant unexpectedly. They will still wonder how they can afford to raise their children. Men will still encourage their girlfriends or wives to abort their child.  That is the nature of a fallen world. The law is part of the solution to restraining sin but not the whole. More than ever, we must support our crisis pregnancy centers, our adoption agencies, our foster care systems, and our charities that help women, children, and families. If you don’t know where they are, ask you pastor, your friends, your legislator. These charities are on the frontlines of helping women in crisis. Pray for them, volunteer for them, donate to them. They too are part of the solution to sin but not the whole. 

The whole solution to sin can only be found in Christ’s body and blood broken and spilled on the Cross. We conquer death, we conquer Roe, only by dying with Him and rising with Him. Roe’s shadow cannot overcome His light. Our faint justice only points to His final justice. No matter what happens this term of Court, don’t forget that a higher Court with a higher Judge will have the ultimate verdict. 

Dan Gibson is an attorney and lives in Wake County