One of the things that has sustained the Supreme Court as an institution — despite differences in legal philosophy — has been an agreement on procedure and protecting the integrity of the Court. That’s why Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Stephen Breyer have both spoken out against court-packing because they thought that would harm the nature of the court. Democrats don’t care about that integrity, which is why they have been pushing court-packing to take over the Court and encouraging marching on the homes of the justices to try to affect their vote.
But Justice Clarence Thomas’ new remarks at a judicial conference in Dallas indicate just how badly the leak of the draft opinion dealing with Roe v. Wade has hurt the Court.
“I do think that 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,” Thomas said at the Old Parkland Conference.
The leak — not the decision’s potential implication of overturning Roe v. Wade — has potentially done irreparable harm to people’s trust in the institution, the veteran justice said.
“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,” Thomas added.
The high court’s secrecy has been an integral part of the judicial process, allowing justices to deliberate free of outside pressures, he added, noting the members of the court did not think such a leak could even occur.
“Oh, that’s impossible. No one would ever do that,” he said, theorizing how people thought of the Supreme Court’s exclusivity prior to the leak.
“Now that trust or that belief is gone forever,” Thomas claimed.
Thomas also said that he didn’t think you would see conservatives going to Supreme Court justices’ homes, as the left has been doing, “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.”
That’s not good when Thomas is describing this as “infidelity,” and that “trust” is gone forever. Infidelity leads to divorce, and it sounds like this has put a bad stake through the heart of the relationships on the Court. It’s also clear that he thinks it was someone on the left, for all the people speculating on who the leaker is. But even beyond that, Joe Biden and the Democrats have harmed the institution by not defending it, indeed trying to undermine it.
Justice Alito said on Thursday, “This is a subject I told myself I wasn’t going to talk about today regarding, you know — given all the circumstances. The court right now, we had our conference this morning, we’re doing our work. We’re taking new cases, we’re headed toward the end of the term, which is always a frenetic time as we get our opinions out.”
But what was missing from the remarks of both Thomas and Alito was the usual talk about judicial comity, that while justices might disagree, they all get along. That’s another indication that there’s an internal issue that needs to be resolved.
Interestingly, we’ve heard from Chief Justice John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, and even in this limited way, Justice Alito. But who we haven’t heard from is anyone on the left on the Court, not even to just say this was wrong or we’re standing all together as a Court against this. Perhaps they are standing on the comments of Roberts, who condemned it, so they may feel they don’t have to say anything further. But it might go a long way to helping the institution if they spoke out against the leak. That could be an indication that they were coming back from this, still unified. Right now, the silence only hurts it.