May 6, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Justice Clarence Thomas: Government institutions can't be "bullied"

Photo of Clarence Thomas in his robes

Associate Justice Clarence Thomas poses for the official group photo at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 30, 2018. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said Friday that government institutions can't be "bullied" into giving people the outcome they want, multiple news outlets report.

Why it matters: Thomas didn't directly address the leak of a draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, but he acknowledged that recent events at the Supreme Court might be one symptom of a judiciary which he views as threatened by people who are unwilling to "live with outcomes we don't agree with," per the Washington Post.

What he's saying: "We can't be an institution that can be bullied into giving you just the outcomes you want. The events from earlier this week are a symptom of that," Thomas said at the 11th Circuit Judicial Conference, per Reuters.

  • He added that he is worried about a "different attitude of the young," which he said fails to show a respect for the law that was sustained by previous generations, the Post writes.
  • "Recent events have shown this major change," the court's longest-serving justice said.
  • Eroding respect for institutions and the rule of law "bodes ill for a free society," he added.

The big picture: Thomas voted to overturn Roe in 1992 during Planned Parenthood v. Casey, according to AP. He has repeatedly criticized the Roe ruling since.

  • Roughly six in 10 U.S. adults believe abortion should be legal in "all or most cases," according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted before the leak.

What to watch: A former Army lawyer will lead the investigation of the Supreme Court leak after Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the draft's authenticity and called the leak "absolutely appalling."

Worth noting: Thomas has also faced recent backlash for what many see as a conflict of interest after his wife, a conservative activist, said she attended the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the insurrection.

Go deeper... Dashboard: The latest on Roe v. Wade and abortion

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