On Friday the great Justice Clarence Thomas was interviewed by our friend John Yoo at a conference sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, the Manhattan Institute, and the Hoover Institution in Dallas. I have posted the C-SPAN video at the bottom.
Professor Josh Blackman created a transcription of parts of the video and posted highlights with his own comments here on the Volokh Conspiracy’s current home base at Reason. First, Professor Blackman reports, John asked Justice Thomas if there is “anything going on at the Court these days.” Thomas let out “a booming laugh” before he responded:
The whole idea that your point about institutions, I think we are in danger of destroying the institutions that are required for a free society. You can’t have a civil society, a free society, without a stable legal system. You can’t have one without stability and things like property or interpretation and an impartial judiciary. And I’ve been in this business long enough to know just how fragile it is.
And the institution that I’m a part of, if someone said that one line of one opinion would be leaked by anyone in you would say that, “Oh, that’s impossible. No one would ever do that.” There was such a belief in the rule of law, belief in the court, a belief in what we were doing, that that was verboten. It was beyond anyone’s understanding, or at least anyone’s imagination, that someone would do that. And look where we are, where now that trust or that belief is gone forever. 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. You can explain it but you can’t undo it.”
Let that sink in. There is much more from Justice Thomas and, as you might expect, all of it is worth taking in. Professor Blackman features a few of the highlights and concludes: “It is our best insight to date about the sentiments inside the Court.”
Justice Thomas, long may you run.