Judge resigns from federal appeals court to work for
RICHMOND, Va. -- Judge J. Michael Luttig resigned
Wednesday from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
to accept a job as senior vice president and general
counsel for Boeing Co.
Luttig, a conservative judge and native of Tyler,
Texas, had been named to the federal bench by former
President Bush in 1991 and mentioned last year as a
possible nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.
"This opportunity just came out of the blue," he told
The Associated Press in a telephone interview from his
Northern Virginia court chambers. "I was not looking
to leave the court, and did not expect to leave the
court. After considering it, it seemed an opportunity
we could not forego."
Luttig said his decision had nothing to do with being
passed over for the Supreme Court nomination.
White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said
Wednesday, "The president regrets the loss of Judge
Luttig's distinguished service on the federal
judiciary, but respects his decision and wishes him
and his family the best."
Luttig was 37 when he was appointed to the 4th
Circuit, becoming the youngest federal appeals court
judge in the country. The Richmond-based appeals court
is widely viewed as the most conservative in the
Luttig previously served as an aide to U.S. Chief
Justice Warren E. Burger and as an assistant counsel
in the Reagan White House. He clerked for Burger and
for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia when Scalia
was a judge on the federal appellate court in
He also helped Justice Clarence Thomas, another Bush
favorite, through his contentious confirmation
hearing. Luttig delivered a eulogy at Burger's funeral
and was a groomsman at the wedding of new Chief
Justice John Roberts.
William Wilkins, chief judge of the 4th Circuit,
praised Luttig for thoughtful and timely opinions
during his years on the federal bench, and for his
vigorous questioning of lawyers arguing before the
"He always did his homework beforehand. He was as
familiar with the record as the lawyers were. He could
engage and really probe into issues before the court,"
At Boeing, he will succeed Douglas G. Bain, who
announced his plans to retire July 1. Luttig and his
wife, Elizabeth, have a daughter and a son. The family
will relocate to the Chicago area.
Criminal cases were more than theoretical exercises
for Luttig, whose father was murdered in a carjacking
more than a decade ago. In 1994, Napoleon Beazley, 17,
confronted businessman John Luttig in the driveway of
his Tyler home and shot him twice in the head.