The leaked draft opinion that would overturn the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision remains a mystery in some respects. But two things are certain. First, the leak has damaged the court’s credibility. Chief Justice John Roberts is right to initiate a full investigation by the marshal of the court. The Supreme Court’s credibility stands to gain substantially if the culprit is identified and disciplined for his or her deeply unprofessional conduct.

Second, Roe, which established a constitutional right to abortion, justifiably appears to be on life support.

To be sure, as Roberts noted, the draft “does not represent a decision by” the court “or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.” And Roberts would know — in 2012, he switched sides in the middle of deliberations over a critical case, ultimately siding with the court’s liberals in upholding Obamacare. Hopefully, a similar reversal is not in store for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, but stranger things have happened.

As for the substance of the leak, any final holding that resembles this draft would be a huge win for federalism and the Constitution.

First of all, Roe was a horribly reasoned court decision. It deserves to be overturned just on that basis, even if abortion remains legal everywhere. The late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was just one of many liberal legal giants to believe it was a shoddy court precedent, even though she supported its outcome. Chief Justice Harry Blackmun’s slapdash reasoning has not aged well given its reliance on dubious historical speculation and pseudoscientific medical concepts. It contrasts sharply with Justice Samuel Alito’s brilliant and persuasive draft for Dobbs.

Second, abortion is not the powerful political issue the Left thinks it is. For decades, the refrain of pro-choice liberals was that if Roe were ever weakened or overturned and states began passing restrictive abortion laws, pro-life politicians would start to lose across the board as angry voters retaliated. Then, Roe was weakened by Gonzales v. Carhart in 2007, and ever since, states have been passing more and more restrictive abortion laws. And guess what? The pro-life politicians keep winning elections, especially at the state level and even when abortion becomes a major national issue.

Last year’s election provides an instructive example. Texas enacted one of the most controversial abortion measures of the past 50 years, going beyond other laws by giving private citizens standing to sue abortionists. This law, which almost immediately ground the state’s abortion industry to a halt, became a national story for weeks during the initial court challenges against it. This happened just as election season was reaching full pitch in the Democratic-leaning state of Virginia.

Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic nominee, tried to piggyback on this issue by airing multiple ads highlighting his abortion support. He spoke ceaselessly about the Texas abortion law and made it his closing message that he would prevent such a thing from happening in Virginia. The voters reacted by electing his opponent, plus the full slate of pro-life Republican statewide candidates. They also ended Democrats’ majority in the state House. In short, whatever the voters were thinking about abortion, they were not so fixated on Roe that they let it dictate their vote.

So what about 2022? Democrats are hoping that if Dobbs does overturn Roe, it will save them from the shellacking they currently face. But if that hasn’t worked before, why should it work now?

The Roe position, that abortion is a sacred cow that democracy cannot touch, is the credo of high-dollar Democratic donors, but it is not necessarily popular with the broader population — at least not when they are clearly informed of what Roe means. A reversal of Roe will simply restore democracy and federalism. Those on both sides would do well to keep their heads because they will soon be fighting the issue where it belongs — in legislatures.

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