OPINION: This article contains commentary which may reflect the author's opinion
In the last week, and unprecedented leak of a draft of the SCOTUS opinion concerning the fate of Roe Vs. Wade has created an uproar. Fans of Roe vs. Wade have assumed the draft is a final statement, and have started protesting their perceived outcome. Conservatives are appalled at the fact that a leak has occurred, and that the function of the SCOTUS has possibly been compromised.
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.
He said the draft does not represent the final position of any of the court’s members, and Chief Justice Roberts has ordered an investigation into the leak, Daily Mail reported.
The leak of the draft resulted in protests in Washington as well as more than 380 events set from Maine to Hawaii, with the largest gatherings expected in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and other big cities, organizers said as reported by the Daily Mail.
On Friday in Dallas, longtime Justice Clarence Thomas spoke at the Old Parkland Conference, a meeting of black conservatives, and compared the leak of fellow Justice’s Samuel Alito’s draft opinion, to ‘infidelity.’ Thomas hinted that a liberal clerk may have leaked the draft, and lamented that partisan has infiltrated the highest court in the U.S. to a degree not seen before.
Thomas, 73, said that the leak would weaken the public’s trust in the Supreme Court as an institution, calling the unauthorized disclosure of deliberations ‘tremendously bad,’ Daily Mail reported.
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, a nominee of President George H.W. Bush, said it was beyond ‘anyone’s imagination’ before the May 2 leak of the opinion that even a line of a draft opinion would be released in advance, much less an entire draft that runs nearly 100 pages.
Following his speech, Thomas sat for a questions and answers session with John Yoo of Berkeley Law School, noting the changes in regard to lack of integrity within SCOTUS since he joined the bench in 1991.
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 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.’
Thomas also referred to the protests by liberals at conservative justices’ homes in Maryland and Virginia that followed the draft opinion’s release. Thomas argued that conservatives have never acted that way.
‘You would never visit Supreme Court justices’ houses when things didn´t go our way. We didn´t throw temper tantrums. I think it is … incumbent on us to always act appropriately and not to repay tit for tat,’ he said.
In a lighter moment reported by the Daily Mail during the question and answer session, Yoo, who is known for writing the so-called ‘torture memos’ that the George W. Bush administration used to justify using ‘enhanced interrogation’ techniques after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, said at one point that he had taken pictures of notes Thomas had taken during the conference.
‘You’re going to leak them?’ Thomas asked, laughing.
Yoo responded: ‘Well, I know where to go…Politico will publish anything I give them now.’
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.
Conservatives nation wide have held for years that the 1973 SCOTUS decision Roe Vs. Wade was not constitutional and that the decision should be overturned, which means the question is returned to the states for legal clarification in each state. Since the current SCOTUS has not finished its opinion, it is not clear at this time what the specifics of that opinion will be when finalized, but rest assured that the current status of the legislation will be changed.