Why Luttig Is Leaving
The Wall Street Journal's front page article on the reasons for Judge Luttig leaving. It includes this:
Judge Luttig, according to a person familiar with the court proceedings, put his own credibility on the line, drawing on his own experience in national-security law and confidence in Bush administration officials he knew. He argued to his colleagues that the government wouldn't have sought such extraordinary powers unless absolutely necessary, this person says.
Then, in November, the administration suddenly announced that it didn't consider Mr. Padilla an enemy combatant any more and would charge him in a regular federal court....A person familiar with the judge's thinking says it's evident [Luttig] felt the government had pulled "the carpet out from under him."
....Instead of granting what the government considered a pro forma request to transfer Mr. Padilla to civilian custody, Judge Luttig ordered the parties to submit arguments over the question. On Dec. 21, Judge Luttig delivered a judicial bombshell: a carefully worded order refusing to move Mr. Padilla until the Supreme Court decided what to do. The order all but accused the Bush administration of misconduct.
The fact that the article begins:
It didn't take long for the judge's anger to burst out into the open. The next month he wrote that moves such as the attorney general's cast doubt on the Bush administration's "credibility before the courts." Judge Luttig tried to block Mr. Padilla's transfer to civilian custody from the brig. (Read the opinion.) The administration's top litigator fired back that the judge "defies both law and logic."
The clash, which underscores the increasing skepticism among even some conservative jurists toward the Bush administration's sweeping theories of executive power, culminated yesterday in Judge Luttig's resignation. The 51-year-old judge, once considered a likely Bush nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, stepped down from his lifetime seat on the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to start a new career in Chicago as general counsel for Boeing Co.
Hugh Hewitt's take is predictably sunny. He writes "And if that next opening is weeks away, his announcement today would not be an obstacle to his nomination at that point."
Hmm, I guess that is technically correct. The resignations would not be an obstacle. However, the fact that Luttig and the White House seem to detest each other might.