Justice Clarence Thomas said the Supreme Court was overturned due to the shocking leak of a draft opinion earlier this month. The opinion indicates that the Court is willing to revoke the right to abortion that has been recognized for nearly 50 years in Roe v. valley.
Conservative Thomas, who joined the court in 1991 and has long advocated the Roe v. wade to flipdescribed the leak as an unimaginable betrayal of trust.
When you lose that trust, especially in the organization I work for, it fundamentally changes the organization. You start looking over your shoulder. It’s like some kind of infidelity that you can explain, but you can’t undo, he said while speaking at a conference Friday evening in Dallas.
The court said the draft did not represent the final position of any of the court’s members, and Chief Justice John Roberts ordered an investigation into the leak..
Thomas, one of President George HW Bush’s nominees, said it was out of “anyone’s imagination” before the opinion was leaked on May 2 to Politico. That even a line of draft opinion will be released in advance, not to mention the release of a full draft of about 100 pages. Politico also reported that, in addition to Thomas, conservative justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Connie Barrett voted with the author of the draft opinion, Samuel Alito, to overrule the Roe v. Wade and Resolution 1992, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, confirmed Roe’s discovery of a constitutional right to abortion.
Previously, Thomas said, “If someone said one line of one opinion” was going to be leaked, the response would be, “Oh, that’s impossible. No one will ever do that.”
“Now that trust or that belief is gone forever,” Thomas said at the Old Parkland Conference, which describes itself as a conference “to discuss proven alternative approaches to addressing the challenges facing black Americans today.”
Thomas also said at one point, “I think what happened in court is really bad…I wonder how long we’ll have these institutions at the rate we’re undermining them.”
Thomas also touched on passing liberal protests in the homes of conservative judges in Maryland and Virginia that followed the release of the draft opinion. Thomas argued that conservatives never acted in this way.
“You would never visit the homes of Supreme Court justices when things did not go our way. We did not throw tantrums. I think it is our duty to always act appropriately and not respond with one,” he said.
On Saturday, protests are also expected in the Supreme Court and across the country.
Thomas was speaking in front of the audience as part of a conversation with Jun Yuwho is now a law professor at Berkeley but worked for Thomas for a year in the early 1990s as a law clerk.
Each judge generally has four legal clerks each year, and the current group of law clerks has been the focus of speculation as a possible source for the draft opinion leak. They are one of the few groups besides judges and some administrative staff who have access to draft opinions.
Thomas also answered some questions from the audience, including a question from a man who asked about friendships between liberal and conservative justices in court, such as the well-known friendship between the late liberal justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The late Conservative Judge Antonin Scalia. “How can we foster the same kind of relationship within Congress and within the general population?” asked the man.
Well, Thomas replied, “I’m just worried about keeping him in court now.” He continued talking glowing terms about his former colleagues. “This is not the court of that era,” he said.
Despite his comments, Thomas seemed to be in good spirits – laughing at times. Yu, best known for writing the alleged “torture notes” that the George W. Bush administration used to justify the use of “enhanced interrogation” methods after the September events. 11 terrorist attacks, he was at one point said to have taken pictures of notes Thomas took during the conference.
“Are you going to leak them?” Thomas asked, laughing.
Yu replied, “Okay, I know where to go… Politico will post anything I give them now.”