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Clarence Thomas: The Supreme Court Can’t Be ‘Bullied’ for Overturning Roe

Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP, Pool

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas told reporters on Friday that the court cannot be “bullied” for possibly overturning Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States in 1973. 

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Thomas’ remarks came after a draft opinion from the abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was leaked and published by Politico on Monday. The day after, Chief Justice John Roberts put forth a statement clarifying that the draft opinion is real and that there is a full-blown investigation underway to locate the source of the leak.

Reuters reported Friday that Thomas, who is “one of the most conservative justices on the nine-member court,” spoke at a judicial conference in Atlanta where he made “passing references” to the leaked opinion.

As a society, "we are becoming addicted to wanting particular outcomes, not living with the outcomes we don't like," Thomas said at the conference.

"We can't be an institution that can be bullied into giving you just the outcomes you want. The events from earlier this week are a symptom of that," he added.

The draft opinion was written by Justice Samuel Alito. The case surrounds the constitutionality of a 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi. 

The draft opinion's conclusion reads, in part:

Abortion presents a profound moral question. The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.

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In the opinion, Alito refers to Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey as “egregiously wrong,” the same language Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch used in her Dobbs amicus brief filed last summer.

Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.

Fitch's amicus brief filed last July reads, in part: 

Roe and Casey are egregiously wrong. The conclusion that abortion is a constitutional right has no basis in text, structure, history, or tradition…So the question becomes whether this Court should overrule those decisions. It should.

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