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Thursday, May 11, 2006 

More on Luttig

Temperatures drop in Hell as I praise the New York Times. They have a pretty decent article about Michael Luttig that goes beyond the recent news. It gives the reader some great background information about his past positions, friends on the Court, and the tragedy involving his father.

While there are many pressing questions (Who will Bush nominate to replace Luttig? What will happen to Luttig's hired clerks? Who will be the new favorite clerk feeder of Scalia and Thomas?), I think that there is a more important question. Why is there only one picture of Michael Luttig on the internet?

EDIT: Hugh Hewitt's send off post to Luttig has a very interesting conclusion...
And he will no doubt remain on the short list of every serious SCOTUS observor for future vacancies. In fact, a period of practice inside one of America's great corporations will be an additional argument in his favor when the next opening comes around. (And if that next opening is weeks away, his announcement today would not be an obstacle to his nomination at that point.)
I agree that Luttig will remain on the short list, just not for this president. Hewitt's mentioning of another vacancy being possibly weeks away is interesting. I've been trading in rumors about such an occurrence recently as well. I wonder if Hewitt is basing this off of the same source that I am. He may have another credible source too. Or it may just be wishful thinking on both of our parts. Wait and see...

EDIT 2: The Wall Street Journal has an excellent article detailing the recent history of Luttig, the Bush Administration, and the War of Terror cases. I'd say that it's a must read.

My take on the situation is as follows. The apparent past personal clashes between Luttig and Bush seemed like enough to keep Luttig from getting the Court nomination. He was viewed as one of the top picks on just about everyone's list, yet he was passed over three times. I don't think that his final Padilla decision was the nail in the coffin or a judicial temper tantrum. It was just Luttig doing what he thought was right. Luttig was never going to be nominated by Bush, so he had nothing to lose. Strangely enough, that decision makes him an even better nominee to the Court. If a Republican wins in 2008 and the public has similar feelings about Bush that they do now, who would be a better nominee than a judge who didn't change his mind to suit the desires of the Bush Administration? He looks conservative and principled at the same time.

EDIT 3: I spoke too soon. The Wall Street Journal also has an editorial about Luttig. The editors have a similar take on Luttig that I do...
In short, Judge Luttig showed judicial modesty in deferring to the Constitution's broad delegation of power to a President to defend the country. But he was also willing to call the executive when it lacked the courage of its Constitutional convictions and played political tricks. The country has been fortunate to have its major post-September 11 cases go through the Fourth Circuit.
I'm glad that Luttig's retirement from the bench is getting this much attention. It's well deserved. Hopefully, all of this praise for Luttig's career accomplishments and judicial philosophy will nudge the White House in the right direction for their next possible Supreme Court pick.

By the way, it's pronounced Loo-tig, just in case you want to talk about the retirement with your friends and sound like a true Article III nerd.

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