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Supreme Court Trust Gone Forever After Leak


In a Q&A on Friday, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said that the leak of a draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade has fundamentally altered the institution, and that conservatives would never go after liberal judges the way Democrats have conservative ones in recent years.

Thomas made his remarks at the Old Parkland Conference in Dallas on Friday, an event that was hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, the Hoover Institution, and the Manhattan Institute.

During his on-stage Q&A, Thomas was prompted by Berkeley law professor John Yoo to comment on the importance of institutions and how they are affected by that leak of a draft opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito for the majority on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, as well as on “protests at Justices’ homes, and what we’re seeing in the wake of this leak of the alleged Dobbs draft opinion.”

“I think we are in danger of destroying the institutions that are required for a free society,” said Thomas. “You can’t have a civil society, a free society, without a stable legal system. You can’t have one without stability and things like property or interpretation and impartial judiciary.”

“I’ve been in this business long enough to know just how fragile it is,” said Thomas.

He explained how unthinkable it had been that there would be such a leak in the first place.

“The institution that I’m a part of — 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. 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. 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. 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.

Thomas said that we are seeing that undermining is going through “any number of our institutions, whether it’s in the political branches or whether it’s in the universities.”

Thomas added, “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. And then I wonder when they’re gone or they are destabilized, what we will have as a country,” he said. “And I don’t think that the prospects are good if if we continue to lose them.”

The New York Times quoted Thomas from another part of that Q&A on the subject of the treatment of judges in confirmation hearings, citing Justice Brett Kavanaugh as an example, and also commenting on the protests that are taking place at the homes of conservative Justices, arguing it’s something only the left would do.

“You would never visit Supreme Court justices’ houses when things didn’t go our way,” he said. “We didn’t throw temper tantrums. It is incumbent on us to always act appropriately, and not to repay tit for tat.”

From NYT:

He added that conservatives had “never trashed a Supreme Court nominee.” He acknowledged that Merrick B. Garland, President Barack Obama’s third Supreme Court nominee, “did not get a hearing, but he was not trashed.”

“You will not see the utter destruction of a single nominee,” Justice Thomas said. “You will also not see people going to other people’s houses, attacking them at dinner at a restaurant, throwing things on them.”

Watch the clip above, via C-SPAN.

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