Supreme Court leak has turned US Supreme Court into place where you look over your shoulder

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Supreme Court leak has turned US Supreme Court into place where you look over your shoulder

The leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion on abortion rights has turned the body into a place where you look over your shoulder, the conservative justice Clarence Thomas said on Friday, adding that the reputation of the fragile institution may have been damaged permanently by the breach.

The opinion suggests that the court is poised to strike down a constitutional right to abortion provided by Roe v Wade nearly 50 years ago, and has caused social rifts over the issue, with nationwide protests to the draft decision expected across US cities on Saturday.

Thomas, 73, said in a dialogue at a conference of conservative and libertarian thinkers in Dallas, "What happened at the court was tremendously bad." He said that he wonders how long we're going to have these institutions at the rate we're undermining them. I wonder when they're gone or destabilized, what we're going to have as a country. One week after the justice said he feared that the judicial system would come under threat if people are unwilling to live with outcomes we don t agree with and that recent events at the apex court might be a symptom of that. Thomas spokesman said before a gathering sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, the Manhattan Institute and the Hoover Institution, he spoke directly to the leak.

Thomas said it was beyond anyone's imagination before the 2 May 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.

If someone said that one line of one opinion would be leaked by anyone, you would say, Oh, that is impossible. He said no one would ever do that. Such a belief in the rule of law, belief in the court, belief in what we are doing, that was verboten. The anti-abortion justice continued: Look where we are, where that trust or belief is gone forever. When you lose that trust, especially in the institution that I am in, it changes the institution fundamentally. You start to look over your shoulder. It is like an infidelity, you can explain it, but you can't undo it. Thomas s comments speak to a split in opinion over the breach, with conservatives drawing attention to the leak and liberals focusing on the content of the 83-sided document.

Anybody who would, for example, have an attitude to leak documents, that attitude is your future on the bench, Thomas said. We believed we might have been a dysfunctional family, but we are a family. Asked if respect for ideological differences could be nurtured in Congress and in the public arena, Thomas said: "Well, I m just worried about keeping it at the court now," he said before praising his former colleagues on the bench.

He said that this was not the court of that era.

The justices spoke about protests at conservative justices homes in Maryland and Virginia, saying that conservatives never act that way.

You would never visit the supreme court justices houses when things didn't go our way. He said that it is incumbent on us to act appropriately and not to repay tit for tat.

The court said the draft did not represent the final position of any of the court's members, and Chief Justice John Roberts ordered an investigation into the leak, with a focus on a relatively small group of law clerks with access to draft opinions.