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Clarence Thomas promises the Supreme Court will not be 'bullied' after chaos erupts over leaked opinion draft

Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Images

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas spoke out Friday about the abortion-related controversy that has engulfed America's highest court.

Controversy erupted last Monday after Politico published a leaked opinion draft authored by Justice Samuel Alito that indicated the court had voted to overturn Roe v. Wade. The circumstances of the leak are being investigated.

What did Thomas say?

While speaking to judges and lawyers at the 11th Circuit Judicial Conference in Atlanta, Thomas denounced the cultural and political shifts that he believes are harming the integrity of the judiciary.

"We are becoming addicted to wanting particular outcomes, not living with the outcomes we don’t like," Thomas said, according to Reuters. "We can’t be an institution that can be bullied into giving you just the outcomes you want."

Thomas, however, did not directly refer to the leak and the subsequent intimidation of the court's conservative justices by far-left protesters, the Washington Post noted. Instead, he cited "events from earlier this week," describing them as a "symptom" of an increasingly intolerant society.

Additionally, Thomas voiced concern that a "different attitude" among younger Americans is eroding trust and respect for the rule of law. Thomas said that "recent events have shown this major change," and he explained that "it bodes ill for a free society."

Chief Justice John Roberts also spoke out about the leak. After he confirmed the draft is authentic, Roberts described the leak as "absolutely appalling."

"If the person behind it thinks that it will affect our work, that’s just foolish," Roberts said Thursday at a judicial conference.

Anything else?

The source of the leak is being investigated by Col. Gail Curley, marshal of the Supreme Court.

The identity of the leaker, presumed to be a law clerk, remains unknown. However, few people have access to opinion drafts, thus narrowing the scope of potential suspects. The criminality of such a leak is debatable.

Still, theories about the source of the leak have fallen on partisan lines. Conservatives have suggested a left-leaning law clerk leaked the opinion draft to trigger societal upheaval and to pressure the court's conservative-leaning justices to change their votes. Others, however, charge that a conservative clerk leaked the opinion draft to pin down the court's conservative-leaning justices from changing their vote.

NPR reporter Nina Totenberg claimed Sunday the "leading theory" is that a conservative clerk was behind the leak. However, she did not provide evidence to back her claim.

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