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May 10, 2006

Revolving Door: Corruption on the Federal Bench

Rightwing Appeals Court Judge Michel Luttig, on the short list for the Supreme Court, announced his resignation from the Fourth Circuit to become general counsel for Boeing, a disgusting example of the corrupt revolving door extending to the federal bench.

Judgeships should be for life. Any expectation by a judge that they will leave for private practice means that any of their decisions are suspect as currying favor for a future job offer.

And what's problematic is that Luttig has multiple rulings where Boeing's interests were at stake:

  • For example, in a case in 1998 of McDonnell Douglas (recently acquired by Boeing), Luttig signed onto an opinion barring a husband from suing the company for a defective test aircraft crashing and killing his wife. Emory Bros. v. McDonnell Douglas, 148 F.3d 347.
  • In 1997, Luttig signed onto a decision affirming summary judgement in favor of a subcontractor of Boeing, Kaiser Aero v. Alliant, 1997 U.S. App. LEXIS 39028
  • In 1997, in another case involving Boeing subcontracting work from Grumman, Luttig signed onto another case favoring Boeing. Lake Fairfax Seven v. Grumman Aerospace, 41 Cont. Cas. Fed. (CCH) P77.

    And no doubt there are many other cases with a less prominent named role for Boeing where its legal interests were at stake.

    If judges can be rewarded with high-priced jobs for pro-corporate rulings, the whole judicial system is a farce.

    Posted by Nathan at May 10, 2006 12:15 PM