In his concurring opinion to the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh struck a note of optimism that democracy and the will of the people would prevail, even on the agonizing issue of a woman's right to end a pregnancy.
"The nine unelected Members of this Court do not possess the constitutional authority to override the democratic process," he wrote, adding that the court's decision merely "restores the people's authority to address the issue of abortion through the processes of democratic self-government."
States, in other words, hold the power.
For Democrats, that is extraordinarily bad news: In many states, including Wisconsin, Ohio, Georgia and Florida, abortion's new battleground is decidedly unlevel, tilted by years of Republican efforts to gerrymander state legislatures while Democrats largely focused on federal politics. As abortion becomes illegal in half of the country, democratic self-governance may be nearly out of reach for some voters.
By neutralizing federal rights and powers, the Supreme Court is turning states into battle zones. That goes beyond abortion and includes voting, immigration and civil rights. And if, as expected, the court restricts the federal government's ability to regulate carbon dioxide, state governments, stepping in for a gridlocked Congress, will be left to address climate change as well. That would leave the future of the fight to lawmakers in places such as Sacramento and Oklahoma City.