Judge Clarence Thomas says the Supreme Court has been changed by the shocking leak of a draft opinion earlier this month. The opinion suggests that the court is ready to revoke the right to abortion recognized nearly 50 years ago in the Roe v. Wade.
Conservative Thomas, who joined the court in 1991 and has long called for the overturning of Roe v. Wade, described the leak as an unthinkable breach of trust.
“When you lose that trust, especially in the institution I’m in, it changes the institution radically. You start looking over your shoulder. It’s like some kind of infidelity that you can explain it, but you can’t undo it, ”she said during a speech at a conference Friday night in Dallas.
The court said the draft does not represent the final position of any of the members of the court and Chief Justice John Roberts has ordered an investigation into the leak.
Thomas, a candidate for President George HW Bush, said it was beyond “anyone’s imagination” before the May 2 leak to Politico that even one line of a draft opinion would be released in advance, much less. an entire draft that runs nearly 100 pages. Politico also reported that in addition to Thomas, conservative judges Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett had voted with the author of the draft opinion, Samuel Alito, to cancel Roe v. Wade and a 1992 decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, who affirmed Roe’s conclusion of a constitutional right to abortion.
Thomas said earlier, “if someone said a line of opinion” would leak, the answer would be, “Oh, that’s impossible. Nobody would ever do that.”
“Now that trust or belief is gone forever,” Thomas told the Old Parkland Conference, which he describes as a conference “to discuss proven alternative approaches to addressing the challenges black Americans face today.”
Thomas also said at one point: “I think what happened in court is tremendously negative … I wonder how long we will have these institutions at the rate we are undermining them.”
Thomas also spoke of the protests by liberals in the homes of conservative judges in Maryland and Virginia that followed the release of the draft opinion. Thomas argued that conservatives have never acted that way.
“You would never visit the homes of Supreme Court judges when things went wrong. We didn’t throw a tantrum. I think it’s … incumbent on us to always act appropriately and not pay off blow for blow.” , He said.
Protests in the Supreme Court and nationwide are also expected on Saturday.
Thomas was speaking ahead of a hearing as part of a conversation with John Yoo, who is now a law professor at Berkeley but worked for Thomas for a year in the early 1990s as a legal clerk.
Each judge generally has four legal clerks each year, and the current group of legal clerks has been the focus of speculation as a possible source of the draft opinion leak. They are one of the few groups together with the judges and some administrative staff who have access to the draft opinions.
Thomas also answered some questions from the audience, including that of a man who inquired about the friendships between liberal and conservative judges in court, such as a well-known friendship between the late Liberal judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the late Conservative judge Antonin Scalia. “How can we promote the same kind of relationship within Congress and within the general population?” the man asked.
“Well, I’m just worried about having him in court now,” Thomas replied. He continued to speak enthusiastically of former colleagues. “This is not the court of that era,” he said.
Despite his comments, Thomas seemed in a good mood, laughing heartily at times. Yoo, known for writing the so-called “torture reminders” that the George W. Bush administration used to justify the use of “advanced interrogation” techniques after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, said at one point. of taking pictures of notes Thomas had taken during the conference.
“Are you going to leak them?” Thomas asked laughing.
Yoo replied: “Well, I know where to go … Politico will publish everything I give him now.”