J Michael Luttig, a former law clerk to the late Chief Justice Warren Burger and to Antonin Scalia when Scalia was an appeals judge, was on President George Bush’s shortlist for the recent Supreme Court vacancies filled by John Roberts, Jr., and Samuel Alito, Jr.
The prospects for another white male to be named to the next vacancy appear slim, but Luttig says his high court chances were not a factor. “This was a larger decision about my life and my family.” The 51-year-old also says that taking the corporate job does not close the door to future public service, noting that in recent years there have been suggestions that Supreme Court justices be picked from outside the bench.
Luttig says the Boeing opportunity was a case of “sheer serendipity” that came via former White House chief of staff Kenneth Duberstein, a high-powered lobbyist and chairman of the Duberstein Group, who is a member of the Boeing board of directors. Luttig and Duberstein worked closely together during the first Bush administration to shepherd then — Supreme Court nominees David Souter and Clarence Thomas through the nominations process. Luttig says Duberstein called him in April with news of the impending retirement of Boeing GC Douglas Bain. Luttig traveled to corporate headquarters in Chicago to meet with the new CEO, James McNerney. In his resignation letter to the president, Luttig said he quickly learned that McNerney is “one of the most impressive business leaders in America.”
In his letter to Bush, Luttig said his new position would in a sense continue his public service “because of the central role that The Boeing Company plays in the nation’s defense and security.”