Court Battles

Clarence Thomas says Roe draft leak has changed court, eroded trust

Justice Clarence Thomas said Friday that the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion signaling the court is prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade has changed the high court and eroded trust.

“The institution that I’m a part of, if someone said that one line of one opinion would be leaked by anyone … you would say, ‘Oh, that’s impossible. No one would ever do that.’ There’s such a belief in the rule of law, belief in the court, a belief in what we were doing that that was verboten. It was beyond anyone’s understanding, or at least anyone’s imagination, that someone would do that,” Thomas said during an event hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, the Manhattan Institute and the Hoover Institution in Dallas. 

“And look where we are, where now that trust or that belief is gone forever. And when you lose that trust, especially in the institution that I’m in, it changes the institution fundamentally,” he added.

During his remarks, Thomas called the leak “tremendously bad” and expressed concerns that it was undermining the Supreme Court.

“I do think that what happened at the court is tremendously bad. I think it’s — I wonder how long we’re going to have these institutions at the rate we’re undermining them,” he said. “And then I wonder when they’re gone, or they are destabilized, what we will have as a country. And I don’t think that the prospects are good if we continue to lose, though.”

It was at least Thomas’s second speaking engagement this month following the leak of the draft ruling, purportedly written in February, that indicated the high court is prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision that legalized abortion.

Speaking at the 11th Circuit Judicial Conference to lawyers and judges earlier this month, Thomas appeared to allude to the leak with several references to “unfortunate events” that week, but did not directly address it, according to The Washington Post.

A final decision is expected by the court in the coming weeks. The Senate failed this week in advancing legislation that would have codified abortion protections, with all 50 Senate Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) voting against it.

Tags abortion rights Clarence Thomas Supreme Court leak
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