Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Friday spoke publicly about the unprecedented leak of a preliminary draft decision overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion.
During an evening event in Dallas, Thomas said the leak fundamentally — and permanently — altered the nation’s highest court and may even have done irreparable damage.
“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,” Thomas said at the Old Parkland Conference.
The leak of the draft opinion, which was written in February by Justice Samuel Alito and has likely been altered somewhat since then, is what was harmful to the institution — not that it overturned Roe, but because of the damage it did to Americans’ trust in the Supreme Court.
“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 added.
The high court’s secrecy has been an integral part of the judicial process, allowing justices to deliberate free of outside pressures, he added, noting the members of the court did not think such a leak could even occur, Fox News .
“Oh, that’s impossible. No one would ever do that,” Thomas said, suggesting how people thought about the integrity and exclusivity prior to the leak.
Since it occurred, Chief Justice John Roberts tasked the court’s marshal to investigate it and bring whoever was responsible to account.
“Now that trust or that belief is gone forever,” Thomas claimed.
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Thomas also suggested there has been a recent trend to undermine the Supreme Court, challenging its integrity and impartialness — and a new phenomenon of citizens showing up to members’ homes and holding them personally responsible.
The justice said, however, the trend was among liberals and that conservatives have not acted in this way.
“You would never visit Supreme Court justices’ houses when things didn’t go our way. We didn’t throw temper tantrums. I think it is … incumbent on us to always act appropriately and not to repay tit-for-tat,” Thomas said.