A conservative judicial icon and perennial short-lister for SCOTUS, lured to Chicago by the promise of a mighty pay raise.

Sounds like he had nothing left to lose:

People close to the selection process said that it was unlikely President Bush would consider Judge Luttig for any future vacancies, as political imperatives all but precluded nomination of another white male for the high court.

Standby for reaction from right-wing lawbloggers, most of whom are unrolling the black bunting as we speak.

Update: He says he had no plans to leave the bench until Boeing came knocking. Uh huh.

“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.”