Sun | Jun 26, 2022

Clarence Thomas says abortion leak has changed US Supreme Court

Published:Saturday | May 14, 2022 | 12:29 PM
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas speaks on September 16, 2021, at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Thomas says the Supreme Court has been changed by the leak of a draft opinion earlier this month. The opinion suggests the court is poised to overturn the right to an abortion recognized nearly 50 years ago in Roe v. Wade. (Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune via AP, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Justice Clarence Thomas says the Supreme Court has been changed by the shocking leak of a draft opinion earlier this month.

The opinion suggests the court is poised to overturn the right to an abortion recognised nearly 50 years ago in Roe v. Wade.

The conservative Thomas, who joined the court in 1991 and has long called for Roe v. Wade to be overturned, described the leak as an unthinkable breach of trust.

“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,” he said while speaking at a conference Friday evening in Dallas.

The court has said the draft does not represent the final position of any of the court's members, and Chief Justice John Roberts has ordered an investigation into the leak.

Thomas, a nominee of President George H.W. Bush, said it was beyond “anyone's imagination” before the May 2 leak of the opinion to Politico that even a line of a draft opinion would be released in advance, much less an entire draft that runs nearly 100 pages.

Politico has also reported that in addition to Thomas, conservative justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett had voted with the draft opinion's author, Samuel Alito, to overrule Roe v. Wade and a 1992 decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, that affirmed Roe's finding of a constitutional right to abortion.

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.”

“Now that trust or that belief is gone forever,” Thomas said at the Old Parkland Conference, which describes itself as a conference “to discuss alternative proven approaches to tackling the challenges facing Black Americans today.”

Thomas also said at one point: “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.”

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