Justice Clarence Thomas on Friday compared the leak of fellow Justice’s Samuel Alito’s draft opinion regarding Roe v Wade to ‘infidelity.’
Thomas, 73, said that the leak would weaken the public’s trust in the Supreme Court as an institution.
He told host John Yoo that the leak from the Supreme Court was ‘tremendously bad.’
Thomas pondered: ‘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 destabilized what we will have as a country and I don’t think the prospects are good if we continue to lose them.’
He continued: ‘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,’ reports Politico.
Thomas was speaking at the Old Parkland Conference, a meeting of black conservatives, in Dallas where he was Friday’s keynote speaker. Following his speech, Thomas sat for a questions and answers session with John Yoo of Berkeley Law School.
He also hinted that the atmosphere on the court had changed for the worse since he was confirmed in 1991, and suggested that a liberal justice’s clerk could be behind the leak.
Thomas said: ‘This is not the court of that era. I sat with (famously liberal justice) Ruth Ginsburg for almost 30 years and she was actually an easy colleague to deal with… We may have been a dysfunctional family, but we were a family.’
‘Anybody who would, for example, have an attitude to leak documents, that is your general attitude, that is your future on the bench.’
Thomas during his question and answer session at the Old Parkland Conference with John Yoo of Berkeley Law School
During his appearance, 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 destabilized what we will have as a country and I don’t think the prospects are good if we continue to lose them’
The Supreme Court Justices are pictured, with the court currently comprised of six conservatives and three liberals
Politico first reported on the leak of Alito’s draft opinion, an opinion that was the biggest indication yet that the conservative leaning court could overturn a constitutional right to abortion that has been in place since an earlier 1973 ruling.
Six of the court’s nine justices are conservatives, and five of them – all bar John Roberts – are believed to be in favor of overturning Roe, meaning the federal right to an abortion will almost certainly soon be scrapped.
The leak went on to prompt nationwide protests, including angry crowds outside of the homes of conservative Supreme Court justices.
The George H.W. Bush appointee said that conservatives ‘would never visit Supreme Court justice[s’] houses when things didn’t go our way’ and that they don’t ‘throw temper tantrums.
Thomas put into context the gravity of the leak saying: ‘If someone said that one line of one opinion would be leaked by anyone, and you would say that, ‘Oh, that’s impossible. No one would ever do that.’ He described the idea of a leak as ‘verboten.’
Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the leak was authentic but said that it was not the court’s final position on the issue of Mississippi’s ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Speaking at the conference, Thomas did not mention any of his colleagues by name when speaking about the leak.
Thomas said that conservatives would never ‘throw temper tantrums’ if they didn’t like a Supreme Court ruling
Thomas’ comments come a day after Justice Samuel Alito was asked about the leak during an appearance at George Mason University. Alito dodged the question, answering by the saying that it was business as usual within the court, reports The Washington Post.
Famously, it was at the same conference of black conservatives in 1980 when Thomas relayed the audience with one of his most anecdotes when he spoke about his sister who was on welfare.
Thomas, who was then an aide to Republican Senator John Danforth, said of his sister: ‘She gets mad when the mailman is late with her welfare check. That is how dependent she is. What’s worse is that now her kids feel entitled to the check too. They have no motivation for doing better or getting out of that situation,’ reported The Atlantic.
Justice Clarence Thomas: A brief history
Justice Clarence Thomas was born on the outskirts of Savannah, Georgia in 1948, where was he raised in part by his maternal grandparents
Thomas got his law degree from Yale. After graduation, he said that law firms didn’t take him seriously because they believed his degree was down to affirmative action.
In 1974, Thomas went to work for the Attorney General of Missouri’s office under John Danforth.
Thomas was appointed for a role in the Department of Education by President Ronald Reagan in 1981.
In 1989, President George H.W. Bush nominated Thomas for the court of appeals. He was confirmed in 1990.
Thomas was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court in July 1991 following the retirement of Justice Thurgood Marshall
Despite sexual assault allegations made against him, Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court in 1991.
Since then, Thomas has gained a reputation as one of if not they most conservative member of the court.
Thomas has been married to his second-wife Virginia Lamp since 1987.
Lamp, a conservative activist, attracted controversy in 2022 when it was widely reported that she interacted with President Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, encouraging him to push voter fraud conspiracy theories.