So why did Michael Luttig resign? Was there "a breakdown of trust" between Luttig and Bush? In other words, had one of Bush's staunchest allies and defenders, a "star" of the conservative judiciary, finally had enough? Did he finally see, in the Padilla case, just what Bush and the war on terror are all about? It would seem that this is a very likely possibility, but it's not what the White House spin machine wants you to believe. After all, the White House is already swift-boating Luttig. As Jason Zengerle puts it at
A furious Bush [A]dministration asked the Supreme Court to overrule the Fourth Circuit. The ruling "second guesses and usurps both the president's commander-in-chief authority and the Executive's prosecutorial discretion in a manner inconsistent with bedrock principles of separation of powers," Mr. Clement, the solicitor general, wrote.
The Supreme Court agreed to let Mr. Padilla move -- he is now in a Miami jail -- but the administration's strategy of funneling war-powers cases to the Fourth Circuit was in tatters...
People familiar with Judge Luttig's thinking say he knew his condemnation of the administration would bring a personal cost but he believes that judges must apply the law regardless of its political implications. These people say he has been disillusioned by the encroachment of politics on the judiciary -- and the view that judges are on "our team" or "their team."
People close to the Bush administration see it differently. They dismiss Judge Luttig's opinion as a judicial tantrum, noting that it came after he was passed over three times for a Supreme Court position. President Bush nominated Judge Roberts, Harriet Miers (who withdrew) and Judge Samuel Alito.