Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has spoken out about the leaked opinion written by Justice Alito regarding the possible reversal of the landmark 1973 case Roe v. Wade.
Thomas believes that this act has changed the high court from this point on.
Thomas has been serving as a justice since 1991 and has a history of calling for the 50-year-old case to be overturned. He described the leaking of a private working document as an unthinkable breach of trust.
“When you lose that trust, especially in the institution that I’m in, it changes the institution fundamentally. You begin to look over your shoulder. It’s like kind of an infidelity that you can explain it, but you can’t undo it,” Thomas said while he was speaking at a Dallas conference this weekend.
The draft leaked to the press does not represent the final ruling of any of the Supreme Court justices. It was a working opinion and minds are sometimes changed by early drafts.
John Roberts, the Chief Justice of the Court, has made it clear that there will be an investigation into the leak.
Justice Thomas, appointed by former President George H.W. Bush, also said that it was “beyond anyone’s imagination” before this document was leaked to the news outlet Politico.
He went so far as to say that it would have been hard to imagine even a line of the draft opinion being leaked, let alone the whole draft of the 100-page written opinion.
Thomas said, “if someone said that one line of one opinion” would be leaked, the response would have been: “Oh, that’s impossible. No one would ever do that.”
Thomas went further at the Old Parkland Conference in Dallas declaring that the court’s trust is “gone forever.”
The conference in Dallas was held to discuss alternative, proven approaches to dealing with the challenges in Black America today. Thomas spoke to an audience through a conversation with Berkeley law professor John Yoo.
Yoo previously worked for Justice Thomas as a law clerk.
Thomas was not alone in this preliminary vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, along with the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision. He was joined by conservative justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Coney Barrett, and the draft’s author Alito.
One of the most significant things that Thomas said was, “I do think that what happened at the court is tremendously bad…I wonder how long we’re going to have these institutions at the rate we’re undermining them.”
The focus of the investigation will be on the justices as well as the four law clerks assigned to each justice. They are some of the very few groups of people who would have had access to the draft opinion.
The conservative justice also spoke quickly about the protests by progressives at the homes of Supreme Court justices in Maryland and Virginia.
Thomas said that those who are conservatives have never acted like that. He made it clear that no one on the right went to a liberal justice’s home when they voted against conservative beliefs.
Thomas said, “We didn’t throw temper tantrums,” and he challenged those protesting to act appropriately.
During the question and answer time with the audience, one man asked about the friendships between liberal and conservative justices in the past.
He referenced the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. The audience member asked how Washington could foster that kind of friendship with Congress and even the general population.
Thomas responded by saying that he was worried about keeping those kinds of friendships within the Supreme Court now. Let’s hope that Thomas is overestimating the effect of this shocking leak and that the court has not been changed forever.