[JURIST] Judge J. Michael Luttig [SCOTUSblog backgrounder], 51, of the Richmond, Virginia-based US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] resigned from the bench Wednesday to accept a position as senior vice-president and general counsel [Boeing press release] of the Boeing Company [corporate website], the giant airplane manufacturer and defense contractor. Luttig became the nation's youngest appellate judge when he was appointed at age 37 by President George H.W. Bush in 1991, and was widely considered to be a frontrunner [JURIST report] for the US Supreme Court opening left by the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist in 2005. The conservative Luttig is a former aide and clerk to Chief Justice Warren Burger, and was a law clerk to Associate Justice Antoinin Scalia when Scalia served as a federal judge.
In his resignation letter [PDF text], Luttig thanked President George W. Bush for the opportunity to serve his country, especially during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, and said that the opportunity to serve as Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Boeing came about through "sheer serendipity." Luttig said that he was convinced to take the Boeing job because of Boeing's status as an "American icon" and their contributions to national security, as well as because of new Boeing CEO James McNerrey. NBC has more.