The leak of the draft majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to Politico earlier this month had both the left and right up in arms. The left predictably went nuts, making outlandish claims about what might happen if Roe v. Wade is, in fact, overturned. Yet at the same time, the right saw the leak as a tremendous assault on the longstanding confidentiality of the court.
This is precisely how Chief Justice John Roberts saw it as well. He called it a “singular and egregious breach of that trust that is an affront to the Court and the community of public servants who work here.”
Justice Clarence Thomas took it a step further, saying that the leak has forever changed the court.
“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 said Friday while speaking at a conference in Dallas.
Thomas was one of the five justices who had voted to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey according to the draft opinion of Dobbs v. Jackson, along with Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, and the author of the draft opinion, Samuel Alito.
Pro-abortion activists have been protesting outside the homes of the conservative justices — in violation of federal law but with the apparent endorsement of the Biden administration. “I know that there is an outrage … about protests that have been peaceful to date and we certainly continue to encourage that outside of judges’ homes,” then-White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.
Thomas touched on those protests as well.
“You would never visit Supreme Court justices’ houses when things didn’t go our way,” he observed. “We didn’t throw temper tantrums. I think it is … incumbent on us to always act appropriately and not to repay tit for tat.”
While the protests were likely to happen regardless of the leak, the leak will have a profound impact on the court.
Before the leak, Thomas said that “if someone said that one line of one opinion” would be leaked, it would have been dismissed as impossible because “no one would ever do that.”
“Now that trust or that belief is gone forever,” he added.
As if proving the point that the Supreme Court’s ability to rely on confidentiality had been permanently destroyed was the fact that within a couple of weeks of the Dobbs v. Jackson leak, another leak occurred, this one involving the details of private conversations among the justices that the Washington Post ended up publishing.
The leak of the draft opinion was likely just the beginning of a new era where longstanding institutions will be constantly sabotaged from within. Justice Thomas, for one, wonders how long this will be sustainable.
“I do think that what happened at the court is tremendously bad,” he said. “I wonder how long we’re going to have these institutions at the rate we’re undermining them.”
I don’t think anyone can accuse Thomas of hyperbole here. The radical left’s antipathy for rules, decency, and institutions is no secret. Democrats have repeatedly proven that they are willing to destroy anything to get their way.