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Judge Michael Luttig ‘76 to Deliver Powell Lecture This year’s event will take the form of a conversation between Judge Luttig and Professor Brian Murchison.

SOC051723_008-800x533 Judge Michael Luttig ‘76 to Deliver Powell LectureFormer Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit Mike Luttig ’76 and President Emeritus Ken Ruscio ’76 have a conversation on recent challenges to democracy and the rule of law in University Chapel on May 9, 2023.

The Hon. J. Michael Luttig ‘76, former federal appellate judge and a 1976 graduate of Washington and Lee, is the invited guest for the annual Powell Lecture at W&L Law. This year’s event will take the form of a conversation between Judge Luttig and Professor Brian Murchison, Charles S. Rowe Professor of the Law, who joined the law faculty in 1982. The topic for the discussion is “State(s) of Play: The 2024 Election and the American Judiciary.”

The event is scheduled for Tuesday, April 9 at 7:00 p.m. in the Millhiser Moot Court Room, Sydney Lewis Hall on the campus of Washington and Lee University. The event is free and open to the public. A livestream of the event will be available. Watch here.

Luttig is a distinguished jurist and constitutional scholar who spent the majority of his career serving under conservative presidents and justices before entering the private sector in 2006. After earning his law degree from the University of Virginia, Luttig served as assistant counsel to the White House under Ronald Reagan’s administration and clerked for then-judge Antonin Scalia and for Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger. He was also the assistant attorney general in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice under President George H.W. Bush. Bush appointed Luttig to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in 1991, and at age 37, Luttig became the youngest federal appellate judge in the country. Luttig continued to serve in this role until 2006, when he resigned his federal judgeship and entered the private sector where he worked for Boeing and Coca-Cola before retiring.

Most recently, Luttig advised Vice President Mike Pence on his constitutional responsibility certifying the electoral college votes on January 6, 2021, and later testified before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. Pence’s team reached out to Luttig in the days before Jan. 6 to ask his opinion on the legality of challenging the vote count for the presidential race, and Luttig counseled Pence that he had no legal basis to block Congress from certifying then President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Luttig also made his legal opinion publicly known via Twitter, and later, in his testimony to the House Select Committee, Luttig asserted that stopping Congress from certifying the election would have provoked a “constitutional crisis.”

The students at Washington and Lee University School of Law founded the Lewis Powell, Jr. Distinguished Lecture Series in 2002 in honor of Justice Powell ’29A, ’31L, who was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1972.  Justice Powell’s judicial legacy was defined by a respect for both sides in a dispute and a desire to craft judicial opinions that struck a middle ground.  The student-run lecture series features nationally prominent speakers who embody Powell’s spirit in their life and work.