Today's newsletter will be a bit different. It's been challenging to write. Bear with me...
The biggest story in the U.S. by far right now is the leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion apparently overturning Roe vs. Wade. Yesterday, Chief Justice Roberts confirmed the draft by Justice Alito is real (but maybe not final), and he ordered an investigation.
I spent a lot of time Tuesday thinking how to address this here. I mean, I had some perfectly fun, useful, informative things all planned to say about Star Wars today, since it's May 4 ("May the Fourth," right?).
Couldn't we just talk about that?
But, it would have seemed odd to start talking about a 1977 movie without context about what's going on in 2022.
On the other hand (maybe this is my third hand?), I have very little desire to try to lead us all blithely into a deep discussion on this decision, or politics, or abortion, or when life begins, or bodily autonomy.
I have strong feelings like everyone, and I think it's a good thing for a community of readers like this to be able to discuss highly contentious issues. However, we have dedicated, valued readers who are all over the map, politically. We literally just did a survey on this.
And, I think it would be like throwing a hand grenade into the community that we've built here to dive into this kind of discussion without warning, because we've been goaded into it by a media moment.
(I'm clearly justifying how I'm handling this to myself as much as to readers, so thanks for your patience.)
Maybe we can ease into this more by talking about the leak, as opposed to the case itself, as unsatisfying as that might be for some.
Most people seem to assume it was either a Supreme Court clerk or potentially even a justice, who leaked the draft to Politico. Either possibility would be—here's the same metaphor—like throwing a hand grenade.
If the leaker was a liberal, the motivation might have been to try to shame justices into not signing onto the opinion, or else to influence the 2022 elections. However, this seems like very cloudy strategic thinking, especially since it's only conservative justices who are in the majority (unlikely to be swayed), and the decision would likely be revealed officially next month anyway.
If it was a conservative, there's a theory that maybe one of the five justices in the majority is a bit of a shaky vote (likely to concur, rather than sign on to the majority). Leaking the draft might theoretically, in this person's thinking, make it harder for them to switch. But then, blowing up the court to get 100% of what you want instead of 95% seems like an awfully high price to pay.
Perhaps, given the intense furor over this decision, maybe it's all just an impulsive expression of emotion or rage?
As a lawyer and a journalist, I go back and forth very quickly on whether to applaud or be appalled at the notion of the leak. If I were still in DC media, I would have assigned 36 reporters today to track down all 36 current Supreme Court clerks and ask them point-blank, "Was it you? If not, do you know who it was?"
(Even if they deny or refuse to comment, you're going to get a lot out of just asking and watching the reactions. Plus, you never know.)
But as a lawyer, I have no idea how the court can recover from this leak.
But then again ("back and forth very quickly," right?), I'm not sure it's a bad thing for it not to recover.
I think most Americans on all sides assume that on certain issues, a majority of the court will make a decision, and then string together a legal justification. Maybe it's just better for it to be out there.
In fact, I wonder how many readers even thought twice when I neatly divided the court's justices and clerks into liberals and conservatives, above. We all know it’s political, even if they’re theoretically supposed to be “above the fray,” just “calling balls and strikes.”
I'm not sure what else there is to say today that could be constructive—and not for lack of thinking and trying.
I'd invite your comments on how to address issues like these going forward—frankly, things are only going to get more contentious as we head into the summer, and the congressional elections and then, God help us, the run-up to 2024.
Maybe we should have just gone with “May the Fourth.” (It’s OK; scroll to the bottom.)
7 other things worth knowing today
Here's what happens to abortion laws in the U.S. if the decision stands as it was leaked. In short, abortion would be immediately banned in 23 of the 50 U.S. states and restricted in several others. Also, as unprecedented as the leak was -- it turns out the original Roe vs. Wade case was also leaked to the press before it was officially announced back in 1973! (NBC News, NPR)
Elon Musk has been telling investors his plan is to take Twitter private for three years, and then take it public again. So basically, run it under his rules until the 2024 election, and then IPO. Touché, Elon. (WSJ)
This is hardly news at this point, but another 4.5 million people quit their jobs in March. It's "the pit of despair for employers." (CNBC)
Cool idea, but big hurdles: A small airline that had proposed downtown-to-downtown commercial seaplane flights from NYC to DC (via the East River and Potomac River has apparently had its plans delayed at least for now due to security concerns. (Skift)
The U.S. reclassified WNBA star Brittney Griner as 'wrongfully detained' by Russia. It basically means the U.S. doesn't think she's guilty of drug possession, and changes some things administratively to allow further efforts to bring her home. (ESPN)
Wait: Why don't we have this in the U.S.? Canada announces it's considering creating of tax-free first home savings accounts, up to to CAN$40,000—if I'm reading this right, you invest pre-tax money and then also withdraw it without paying tax, too. Smart move, Canadians! (Globe & Mail)
OK, finally: “May the Fourth!” Maybe you’ve seen this, but I had not until a few weeks ago. Did you know that there are deleted scenes from the original Star Wars, including some lengthy ones involving Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker with other actors, that were cut from the final version? I’ve been moved since I realized this, thinking what it might have been like to have been cast in a small role in this movie—only to have your scenes cut, and have it go on to become perhaps the most-watched and most-famous movie of all time. Here’s the compilation. (Yahoo News, YouTube)
Thanks for reading. Photo credit: Unsplash. Want to see all my mistakes? Click here.