Retired Federal Judge Warns ‘We Are in Political War to the Death’

  • A retired conservative federal judge is warning that America is “in a political war to the death.”
  • Former Judge J. Michael Luttig told the Los Angeles Times “American democracy hangs in the balance.”
  • Luttig, who helped Pence defend the 2020 election results, is deeply concerned about the US. 

A retired conservative federal judge who helped former Vice President Mike Pence rebuff attacks on the 2020 election is warning that the United States is locked “in a political war to the death” and that “American democracy hangs in the balance.”

J. Michael Luttig began his career clerking for Justice Antonin Scalia and former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger. Luttig briefly served at the Department of Justice before being confirmed to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, where he was twice considered for the Supreme Court during the George W. Bush presidency. 

Luttig retired from the federal judiciary in 2006, but remained an influential figure in the conservative legal world — and now says he is deeply troubled by the Republican Party’s attacks on American democracy. 

“This feels like a seminal moment in America when all of what the country has witnessed and endured for these years seems to be building to volcanic crescendo,” Luttig told the Los Angles Times columnist Jackie Calmes. “We are in political war to the death — with each other.” 

Luttig made a major splash on Twitter January 5, 2021. Luttig, at the “urgent” request of Pence’s outside counsel, put together a Twitter thread of legal analysis laying out why Pence couldn’t unilaterally overturn the 2020 election, as former President Donald Trump was pushing him to do. 

Luttig didn’t know until the next day, January 6, that his tweets would be cited in Pence’s open letter explaining why he neither had the power nor desire to unilaterally throw out President Joe Biden’s Electoral College votes.

“I understood the gravity of the moment and the momentous task that I was being asked to help the vice president with,” Luttig told Politico’s Ryan Lizza of his decision to write the Twitter thread. “I had been following all of this very closely in the days leading up to it. It was then — and may forever be — one of the most significant moments in American history.”

Luttig also told Politico that helping Pence defend the integrity of the 2020 election was “the highest honor” of his life and something he will be grateful for for the rest of his life. 

In a Twitter thread posted on January 7, 2022 the day after the one-year anniversary of the January 6 insurrection, Luttig similarly said that “we Americans are, figuratively, at angry war with each other.”

“Our leaders seem incapable or unwilling to lead us in this moment when we need leadership most. If our leaders refuse to lead us to where we want to go and need to be, then we must go there ourselves — and leave them behind,” he wrote.