U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas defended judicial independence on May 6, saying that government institutions must not allow themselves to be strong-armed into delivering outcomes that people demand, according to media outlets.
Thomas made the remarks at a May 6 judicial conference in Atlanta, where he was asked by a moderator to discuss the biggest threats to judicial independence, according to Law360.
In his response, Thomas criticized what he described as an erosion of respect for the high court and made an apparent reference to protests that erupted after the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion suggesting that the court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, with major implications for access to abortion.
“We are becoming addicted to wanting particular outcomes, not living with the outcomes we don’t like,” he said, according to Reuters. “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.”
A flurry of protests and counterprotests broke out outside the Supreme Court after Politico obtained and published the draft opinion that would uphold a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy and overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
In a bid to prevent violence, police have now surrounded the Supreme Court with a set of 9-foot-high metal barricades, with an officer telling an Epoch Times reporter that the move was made “just in case.”
Speaking at the 11th Circuit Judicial Conference, a gathering of attorneys and judges, Thomas referred several times to the “unfortunate events” of the past week, citing a declining respect for institutions and the rule of law.
“It bodes ill for a free society,” he said, according to The Washington Post.
It can’t be that institutions “give you only the outcome you want, or can be bullied” into submission.
Thomas also expressed concern about a “different attitude of the young” toward respect for institutions and the law, suggesting that this is on the decline relative to past generations, as cited by the media outlet.
The Supreme Court has confirmed the authenticity of the draft opinion, but has called it preliminary.
A ruling in the case is expected in June.