- Thomas was the latest Supreme Court justice to discuss a leaked draft abortion opinion in recent days.
- “You can explain it but you can’t undo it,” Thomas says of an unprecedented opinion leak.
- The leaked draft came as the court considered overturning its landmark Roe v. Wade.
WASHINGTON — Associate Justice Clarence Thomas on Friday likened the leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion in a blockbuster abortion case to “infidelity,” arguing it weakens trust in the High Court as well than the public perception of the institution.
“When you lose that trust, especially in the institution I’m in, it fundamentally changes the institution. You start looking over your shoulder,” Thomas said at an event in Dallas. “It’s like a kind of infidelity – you can explain it but you can’t undo it.”
Thomas, a staunch Tory on the nine-member tribunal, is the latest judge in recent days to speak publicly about a leaked draft opinion which showed the High Court could overturn its 1973 Roe v. Wade which established a constitutional right to abortion. . The stunning leak of opinion has upset official Washington in the midst of a midterm election year and sparked protests across the country, including at judges’ homes.
“I’ve been in this business long enough to know how fragile it is,” Thomas said of trust in the country’s institutions. “And the institution that I’m a part of – if somebody said a line of opinion would be leaked by anybody, and you’d say, ‘Oh, that’s impossible. Nobody would ever do that.’ “
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Although Supreme Court deliberations have been leaked before, including in abortion cases, the release of a full draft opinion from the closely watched high court was unprecedented. The court upheld the authenticity of the document but stressed that it was not its definitive opinion in a case involving Mississippi’s ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Chief Justice John Roberts ordered an inquest.
Thomas was speaking at a conference organized by the American Enterprise Institute, the Manhattan Institute and the Hoover Institution.
Thomas’ remarks came a day after Associate Justice Samuel Alito was asked about the leak at an event at George Mason University.
“I think it would be really helpful for all of us to hear, personally, how are you doing in these very difficult times?” asked one commenter, according to the Washington Post.
“It’s a topic that I thought I wasn’t going to talk about today about, you know – given all the circumstances,” Alito replied.
“The court right now, we had our conference this morning, we’re doing our job,” Alito said, the Post reported. “We are taking new cases, heading towards the end of the term, which is always a frenetic time as we publish our opinions.”