I think abortion opponents will have that trust vindicated; I think a Roberts-Kavanaugh court, however restrained in other ways, will overrule Casey and allow the states to legislate freely on abortion once again. But this is not the view of many savvy court-watchers, many legal conservatives included, who expect at most a gradual widening of the room for second-trimester regulation. And if they’re right and I’m wrong, if another Republican appointee writes another opinion that limits but still preserves a constitutional right to terminate unborn human lives, then the party unity that I expect around the Kavanaugh nomination will never be repeated, rebellions and disillusionment will divide the right’s legal coalition, and pro-life voters will never trust the legal establishment’s promises again.
The groundswell for Barrett, unusual in a nomination process, was a foretaste of what the rebellions would look like. And it’s one indicator of a larger truth: One way or another, after Brett Kavanaugh, the politics of abortion will never be the same.