The Wall Street Journal implied yesterday that he did. Time magazine cited his resignation as evidence of a tipping point in public outrage over Bush’s domestic spying. (Wait until Time sees today’s poll results.) Sullivan wants to believe, the same way he wants to believe it’s Bush’s fault that Ray McGovern is a fringe-left it’s-all-about-oil anti-Israel conspiracy-theorist wackjob.
Let’s puzzle this out. Horrified by Bush and the Christianist fascism descending upon America, Luttig resigns his lifetime appointment to the bench … so that Bush can appoint his replacement? When he’d only have to wait two years until Bush is out of office?
Supreme Court justices are famous for sticking around well into their dotage when there’s a president from the other party in office. William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall reportedly stayed on the Court throughout the Reagan years in hopes that a Democrat would be elected in 1988; when Bush I succeeded him, they hung on a bit more until both threw in the towel in the early ’90s. John Paul Stevens, who recently turned 86, is rumored to be following the same strategy. Hard to believe Luttig, 51, wouldn’t do the same if his animosity to the incumbent is as deep as folks want to believe it is.
There’s also the matter of his resignation letter. If his objection to Bush’s detainment policies is that profound, why not mention it there? To do so might have hurt his chances for a Supreme Court appointment under another Republican president somewhere down the line — but if that’s what held him back, then his objection really wasn’t all that profound, was it?
So why did Luttig quit? Possibly because he was bored, although that would be a strange reason for a judge seeking a higher appointment. More likely is that he did it for the money. Human Events Online quotes a passage from WaPo:
Friends of Luttig said yesterday that the financial lure of the Boeing job and the greater ability to pay for his children’s college education — Luttig has a 14-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old son — were key to his resignation. Luttig’s judicial salary was $171,800. Boeing would not reveal his compensation, but Frank H. Menaker Jr., who stepped down last year as general counsel at Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin Corp., earned $760,000 with an $893,500 bonus.
A tenfold increase for his honor. But in fact, it’ll probably be much more than that. The Chicago Tribune, writing about the current GC of Boeing, Douglas Bain, had this to say:
Bain did not mince words when he described the consequences of the unethical conduct at a Boeing leadership retreat in January.
“There are some within the prosecutors’ offices that believe Boeing is rotten to the core,” he said, according to a copy of the speech leaked to the media. “They talk to us about pervasive misconduct and they describe it in geographic terms of spanning Cape Canaveral to Huntington Beach to Orlando to St. Louis to Chicago.”
The candid assessment was backed by Chairman and Chief Executive James McNerney, who has made restoring Boeing’s image one of his priorities.
What better way to turn down the heat from the U.S. Attorney and restore a sense of integrity to the company than to hire a federal appellate judge? And not just any federal appellate judge, but a Republican federal appellate judge. And not just any Republican federal appellate judge, but arguably the most respected federal appellate judge in the country.
They most have thrown a boatload of money at him. And since he’s still in the mix for an appointment to SCOTUS, why not take it?
In any case, Jonah Goldberg got an e-mail yesterday from someone claiming to be a former Fourth Circuit clerk. Luttig might have been angry at Bush, but it sounds like “tipping points” had nothing to do with it.