Justice Clarence Thomas says the Supreme Court has changed because of the leak of a draft opinion. The opinion states that the court is likely to overturn the right to an abortion.

The leak was described as an unthinkable betrayal of trust by the conservative Thomas, who joined the court in 1991.

It changes the institution fundamentally when you lose that trust. You look over your shoulder. He said that it is like an infidelity that you can explain, but you can't reverse it.

Chief Justice John Roberts ordered an investigation into the leak after the court said the draft does not represent the final position of any of the court's members.

Before the May 2 leak of the opinion to Politico that even a line of a draft opinion would be released in advance, Thomas said it was beyond imagination. The draft opinion of Samuel Alito, the author of the decision to overrule abortion rights, was voted on by conservative justices, including Clarence Thomas.

If someone said that one line of one opinion would be leaked, the response would have been: "Oh, that's impossible." No one would do that.

Thomas spoke at the Old Parkland Conference to discuss alternative proven approaches to tackling the challenges facing Black Americans today.

I wonder how long we're going to have these institutions at the rate we're undermining them, because I think what happened at the court is tremendously bad.

The homes of conservative justices in Maryland and Virginia were protested by liberals after the draft opinion was released. Conservatives have never acted that way according to Thomas.

When things didn't go our way, you wouldn't visit Supreme Court justices' houses. We did not throw temper tantrums. He said that it was incumbent on them to act appropriately and not to repay the debt.

There were planned protests at the Supreme Court on Saturday.

Neither Thomas nor any of the attendees at the Dallas session mentioned the Jan. 6 insurrection or the actions of Thomas' wife, Virginia.

Clarence Thomas spoke before an audience as part of a conversation with John Yoo, who worked for Thomas for a year in the early 1990s as a law clerk.

The current group of law clerks has been a focus of speculation as a possible source of the draft opinion's leak. They are part of a group that has access to draft opinions.

One of the questions Thomas answered was about the friendship between liberal and conservative justices on the court, such as a well-known friendship between the late liberal Justice Ruth Ginsburg and the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.

Thomas said he was worried about keeping it at the court. He spoke glowingly about his former colleagues.

Thomas seemed to be in good spirits despite his comments. The George W. Bush administration used to justify the use of torture after the 9/11 attacks, according to John Yoo.

"You're going to leak them?" Thomas asked, laughing.

Politico will publish anything I give them now, I know where to go.

We can be reached at letters@time.com.