OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas slammed the mainstream media and even joked about potentially leaving the court one day.
During a Q & A session at a conference in Dallas, Texas, Thomas blasted the opinion draft leak published by Politico earlier this month, which suggested that Roe v. Wade will be overturned.
Thomas said the leak changed the court and the public’s perception of Supreme Court Justices.
At another point, Thomas said he’d leave the court as soon as he starts doing his job “as poorly” as the media does theirs.
“One of the things I say in response to the media … especially early on, about the way I did my job, I said, ‘I will absolutely leave the court when I do my job as poorly as you do yours — and that was meant as a compliment, really,” Thomas said.
Laughing, he added, “It really is getting to be mean.”
“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 a kind of infidelity that you can explain, but you can’t undo it,” the judge said.
“I think the media makes it sound as though you are just always going right to your personal preference. So if they think you are antiabortion or something personal, they think that’s the way you always will come out. They think you’re for this or for that. They think you become like a politician,” he said. “That’s a problem. You’re going to jeopardize any faith in the legal institutions.”
Earlier this month, a draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito was leaked to Politico and it set off a firestorm on social media.
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts called the leak of a draft opinion “absolutely appalling” and announced an investigation to find the leaker.
“The draft opinion is a full-throated, unflinching repudiation of the 1973 decision which guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights and a subsequent 1992 decision – Planned Parenthood v. Casey – that largely maintained the right,” Politico reported.
Deliberations on controversial cases have in the past been fluid. Justices can and sometimes do change their votes as draft opinions circulate and major decisions can be subject to multiple drafts and vote-trading, sometimes until just days before a decision is unveiled. The court’s holding will not be final until it is published, likely in the next two months,
The immediate impact of the ruling as drafted in February would be to end a half-century guarantee of federal constitutional protection of abortion rights and allow each state to decide whether to restrict or ban abortion. It’s unclear if there have been subsequent changes to the draft.
No draft decision in the modern history of the court has been disclosed publicly while a case was still pending. The unprecedented revelation is bound to intensify the debate over what was already the most controversial case on the docket this term.
The draft opinion offers an extraordinary window into the justices’ deliberations in one of the most consequential cases before the court in the last five decades. Some court-watchers predicted that the conservative majority would slice away at abortion rights without flatly overturning a 49-year-old precedent. The draft shows that the court is looking to reject Roe’s logic and legal protections.
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Alito writes.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” he writes in the document, labeled as the “Opinion of the Court.”
Alito adds: “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
“We, therefore, hold the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion. Roe and Casey must be overruled, and the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives,” Alito writes in the document, labeled the “Opinion of the Court.”