Justice Clarence Thomas confirmed on Friday what court watchers feared would happen after the leak of the draft opinion earlier this month.
Speaking at a conference in Dallas, Thomas said the leak, which showed the Court voting to overturn Roe v. Wade, has shattered trust at the court and undermined the institution.
“Look where we are, where that trust or that belief is gone forever,” he said, according to The New York Times. “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. You can explain it but you can't undo it."
The justice looked back fondly to the 1990s and early 2000s, prior to Chief Justice John Roberts arriving, where there was no change in personnel at the court for 11 years. “We actually trusted each other. We may have been a dysfunctional family, but we were a family,” he said. “This is not the court of that era.”
Thomas, the longest serving member on the bench, added: “I wonder how long we’re going to have these institutions at the rate we’re undermining them.”
He also denounced the attacks conservative justices have faced from the left since the leak, arguing such methods are never something the right undertakes when upset with rulings.
“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.”
Immediately after the leak, the legal world expressed shock and concern over how it would change the court.
It’s impossible to overstate the earthquake this will cause inside the Court, in terms of the destruction of trust among the Justices and staff. This leak is the gravest, most unforgivable sin.— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) May 3, 2022
...The article represents the greatest crisis that Chief Justice John Roberts has faced in his tenure on the Court. It is a breach of the most fundamental obligations and traditions of the Court.— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) May 3, 2022