Every winger’s wet-dream SCOTUS nominee leaves the bench — either for the money or because he’s pissed at Bush for nominating John Roberts, Harriet Miers, and Samuel Alito, rather than Luttig himself, for the SCOTUS.
Appeals court judge J. Michael Luttig, a leading conservative jurist and a short-list Bush administration candidate for the Supreme Court, announced today that he is resigning from the bench to serve as senior vice president and general counsel of The Boeing Co.
Luttig, who sits on the Richmond-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, wrote the most important appellate decision yet in support of the Bush administration’s powers to detain individuals without recourse to ordinary legal protections.
However, he had a significant falling-out with the Bush Justice Department earlier this year when he protested, in a follow-up opinion, what he suggested was the administration’s inappropriate manipulation of the legal system in order to avoid a further Supreme Court test of the president’s wartime authority.
His public thrashing of the Justice Department was known to have been deeply upsetting to political appointees in the department.
Federal appeals court judges earn $171,800 per year and generally must avoid any lucrative outside activity. Vice presidents and general counsels for huge corporations may earn anywhere from a quarter million dollars to several million, including various non-salary forms of compensation.
In a telephone interview today, Luttig said his criticism of the administration “had nothing whatsoever to do with this decision, which is more far-reaching than any particular case.”
“I’ve been on the bench 15 years,” he said. “No one can or should plan their life with regard to a potential Supreme Court appointment.”