Justice Thomas: Release of Drafted Opinion Wrecked Trust Inside SCOTUS, Leak 'Kind of an Infidelity'
01:33 GMT 15.05.2022 (Updated: 01:35 GMT 15.05.2022)
Shockwaves prompted by the leaked draft Roe v. Wade opinion has continued to rattle the US after it revealed the court's possible overturning of the landmark ruling that legalized abortions at the federal level. Now, the reputation of US Supreme Court has been brought into question as there have been no such leaks in its entire history.
US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas stated late Friday that the leak of high court's draft opinion on the landmark Roe v. Wade case had done irreparable damage to the institution and eroded trust among its members.
"What happened at the court is tremendously bad,” Thomas said. "I wonder how long we’re going to have these institutions at the rate we’re undermining them. And then I wonder when they're gone or they are destabilized, what we'll have as a country - and I don't think that the prospects are good if we continue to lose them."
"If someone said that one line of one opinion would be leaked by anyone, you'd say, 'Oh, that's impossible. No one would ever do that.' There is such a belief in the rule of law, a belief in the court, a belief in what we were doing that that was verboten," Thomas added.
"It was beyond anyone's understanding, or at least anyone's imagination, that someone would do that," he continued, referring to the leak.
Thomas described the leak of the drafted opinion, which saw the court siding with overturning the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion, as "like kind of an infidelity."
"Look where we are, where that trust or that belief is gone forever," he said. "And 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."
Thomas, who was appointed in 1991 and spent nearly 30 years on the federal bench alongside late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was appointed in 1993, stated that even justices on different sides of political spectrum have "actually trusted each other" over the years.
"We may have been a dysfunctional family, but we were a family, and we loved it. I mean, you trusted each other, you laughed together, you went to lunch together every day, and I can only hope you can keep it," he said.
Speaking about mass protests in Washington, DC, and in particular near the justices' houses,
Thomas said left-leaning activists have developed tactics that conservatives would not use.
“You would never visit Supreme Court justices’ houses when things didn’t go our way,” he asserted. “We didn’t throw temper tantrums. It is incumbent on us to always act appropriately, and not to repay tit-for-tat.”
Thomas, the present court's longest-serving member, has been a vocal opponent of Roe v. Wade for some time now, according to the New York Times' file.
This Friday, he remarked that those opposed to his candidacy in 1991 were "trying to keep me off the court over abortion." Then, he reportedly declared at his confirmation hearings that he had never addressed Roe, despite the fact that it was issued when he was a student at Yale Law School.
In 1992, however, he dissented in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which the majority reaffirmed the Roe decision's core. Roe was "plainly wrong," Thomas stated back then, and "should be overruled."
He reportedly reconciled his vote with his words during his confirmation hearings in his memoir. "I’d had ample time to study Roe in detail," he wrote, "and concluded that it was wrongly decided and should now be overruled."
The case's ultimate opinion has yet to be announced, and votes and the opinions may certainly change before then. The opinion is not expected to be released
until late June or early July.