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Democracy in Peril

“Democracy in Peril” featuring the Co-Chairs of ABA Task Force for American Democracy, the Honorable J. Michael Luttig, former judge who served on the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit (1991-2006), and the Honorable Jeh Charles Johnson, Partner, Paul Weiss and former Secretary of Homeland Security (2013-2017) in conversation with David French, New York Times opinion columnist.  

Honorable J. Michael Luttig, Honorable Jeh Charles Johnson, and David French.

Honorable J. Michael Luttig, Honorable Jeh Charles Johnson, and David French.

Honorable  J. Michael Luttig

Judge Luttig served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit for 15 years, from 1991 to 2006. He is currently Counselor and Special Advisor to The Coca-Cola Company and the Board of Directors of the Coca-Cola Company.

Prior to joining The Coca-Cola Company in January 2021, Judge Luttig was Counselor and Senior Advisor to The Boeing Company CEO and The Boeing Company Board of Directors. He was Executive Vice President and General Counsel of The Boeing Company from 2006 to 2020.

Before he was appointed to the Federal Bench by President George H.W. Bush in 1991, he served as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel and Counselor to the Attorney General of the United States at the U.S. Department of Justice 1990-1991. He was Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice from 1989-1990.

He was Assistant Counsel to the President at The White House from 1981 to 1982 under President Ronald Reagan. From 1982 to 1983, he was a law clerk to then-Judge Antonin Scalia of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. From 1983 to 1985, he served as a law clerk and then Special Assistant to the Chief Justice of the United States, Warren E. Burger.

Judge Luttig is a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Franklin-Templeton Mutual Funds, a Trustee of the National Constitution Center, a Member of the Board of Checks & Balances, and Co-Chair of the American Bar Association Task Force on American Democracy.

Judge Luttig earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Washington and Lee University and his law degree from the University of Virginia.

Judge Luttig is married to Mrs. Elizabeth Luttig. The couple have two children, Morgan and John.

Honorable Jeh Charles Johnson

Jeh Johnson is a partner in the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP, who in public life was Secretary of Homeland Security (2013-2017), General Counsel of the Department of Defense (2009-2012), General Counsel of the Department of the Air Force (1998-2001), and an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York (1989-1991).

As Secretary of Homeland Security, Johnson was the head of the third largest cabinet department of the U.S. government, consisting of 230,000 personnel and 22 components.

As General Counsel of the Department of Defense, Johnson is credited with being the legal architect for the U.S. military’s counterterrorism efforts in the Obama Administration.  In 2010, Johnson co-authored the report that paved the way for the repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell by Congress later that year.

In private life, in addition to practicing law, Johnson is on the board of directors of Lockheed Martin, U.S. Steel, MetLife, the Council on Foreign Relations, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City, and is a trustee of Columbia University. Johnson is a regular commentator on NBC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, FOX, Bloomberg TV and other news networks. In 2018 Johnson was the recipient of the Ronald Reagan Peace Through Strength Award.  In January 2024 Johnson will receive the New York State Bar Association’s Gold Medal, the highest award the NYSBA confers.

Johnson is a graduate of Morehouse College and Columbia Law School and the recipient of 13 honorary degrees.  

David French

David French joined The New York Times as an Opinion columnist in January 2023. Before that, he was a senior editor at The Dispatch, which he helped start, and a contributing writer at The Atlantic. 

He spent most of his career as a practicing lawyer, working in both commercial and constitutional litigation. In his late 30s, he joined the United States Army Reserve as a judge advocate general. He deployed to Iraq in 2007 and served in Diyala Province, where he was awarded a Bronze Star. During his legal career, he litigated in federal courts from coast to coast and served as a lecturer at Cornell Law School. He is a former president of the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression.

His most recent book is “Divided We Fall: America’s Secession Threat and How to Restore Our Nation.” He lives in Franklin, Tenn. For political and pop culture content, you can follow him on Threads.

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The materials contained herein represent the opinions of the participants and should not be construed to be those of the American Bar Association unless adopted pursuant to the bylaws of the Association. Nothing contained herein is to be considered as the rendering of legal advice for specific cases, and the users of this website are responsible for obtaining such advice from their own legal counsel. These materials and any forms and agreements herein are intended for educational and informational purposes only.