Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas believes the recent leak of a draft opinion was a breach of trust and has changed the 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 said.
The May 2 leak shows that the justices planned to overturn Roe v. Wade however, the Court maintains the draft does not symbolize the court’s final position on the matter, The Associated Press reported.
Thomas said that previously, “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 was nominated by President George H.W. Bush, and became a justice in 1991. Since then, he has called for Roe v. Wade to be reversed.
During a conference, meant to discuss alternative approaches to tackling the challenges facing Black Americans, Thomas told attendees that the trust within the Court was gone forever. “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,” he said.
Thomas also touched on protests by liberals at conservative justices’ homes in Maryland and Virginia that followed the draft opinion’s release. Thomas argued that conservatives have never acted that 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,” he said.
In the leaked opinion, Thomas, along with three other conservative justices Neil Gosuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett voted with the opinion’s author, Samuel Alito to overrule Roe v. Wade.
Chief Justice John Roberts has asked for the leak to be investigated and some speculate one of the justices’ law clerks may have leaked the opinion, The Associated Press reported.