A judicial quiz to date you

President Obama is reportedly preparing to nominate three people soon to fill the remaining vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

With the confirmation last week of former principal deputy solicitor general Sri Srinivasan , those three, if somehow confirmed, would mean all seats on that court would be filled.

Video

Judges at this appeals court face confirmation hurdles that are tougher, in some ways, than actual Supreme Court justices. Now President Obama has a plan to finally fill the vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Judges at this appeals court face confirmation hurdles that are tougher, in some ways, than actual Supreme Court justices. Now President Obama has a plan to finally fill the vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

QUICK LOOP QUIZ! When was the last time the “no vacancy” sign was put up at what many call the second-most-important court in the land?

Here are a few hints: Will Smith was still known as the Fresh Prince (his single with DJ Jazzy Jeff, “Summertime,” was on the charts), and Mark Wahlberg went by Marky Mark, backed by the Funky Bunch.

How times have changed — both are now Serious Actors.

Movie hits from that year included now-classics “Thelma & Louise” (with Brad Pitt!) and “The Silence of the Lambs” (fava beans and a nice Chianti, anyone?). The Persian Gulf War had recently ended, and Mike Tyson had just been arrested.

Okay, you guessed it. It’s been nearly 22 years, a spokesman for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts tells us. It was in October 1991, when the court had 12 seats (it has 11 now) and President George H.W. Bush’s nominee, Judge Clarence Thomas , filled the high court seat of retired Justice Thurgood Marshall .

Give it the three-hour tour

“The Superyacht Industry means jobs for the United States,” the industry trade group’s Web site says.

That can only mean one thing: There’s some proposal kicking around on the Hill that would affect the boating industry. And sure enough, folks at the U.S. Superyacht Association (USSA) tell us there’s a proposal that would eliminate mortgage interest deductions for boats, which now qualify as second homes.

These folks are really not owners of “superyachts” — generally defined as sail or motor yachts around 80 feet or longer — but the industry as a whole would be affected, the trade association says.

Wealthy superyacht owners won the last big tax battle in the early 1990s, after Congress and “read my lips” George H.W. Bush slapped a 10 percent luxury tax on boats and other items selling for more than $100,000.

A chunk of the boating industry went under, many thousands of jobs were lost, and tax revenue was far less than anticipated, industry folks estimate.

Congress thought that the patriotic uber-rich wouldn’t feel the economic pinch. They were right about that. But it wasn’t about the money.

“It’s not that they can’t afford it,” one yacht dealer told the Seattle Times back then, “it’s just that they refuse to pay it.” It was really a matter of principle.

As one yacht purchaser told Kwame Holman of “PBS NewsHour” after the tax was repealed, “I found it insulting.” The yachtsman said he nearly went abroad to buy his $2.5 million craft. He would have had to pay about $240,000 more in taxes before the burden was lifted.

The new proposal, according to the Superyacht Association, would allow deductions on first and second home mortgages, but only up to a total value of $1.1 million. And it would exclude boats entirely.

As a result, the measure is “really only hitting the family boater,” said Kitty McGowan, executive director of the association, meaning people with a primary home and a family boat.

Well, middle-class folks won’t feel insulted or shop abroad for a 30-footer. But this proposal almost surely won’t float.

Funny seeing you here!

As our colleagues at the Reliable Source reported Wednesday, a drastically changed work life might have contributed to the demise of the marriage between former Reps. Connie Mack and Mary Bono Mack (the two Republicans lost their elections in November).

And while they’re no longer colleagues — and soon, they’ll no longer be spouses — the two may still share an address. The respective firms they went to work for just happen to have offices in the same K Street building — a floor apart.

Potential for awkward elevator run-ins: high.

Bono Mack took a job at Faegre BD Consulting, while Mack was snapped up by Liberty Partners Group. Both companies have offices at 1050 K St. NW, a large multi-unit building typical of those along the lobbyist-laden corridor.

In happier times, the couple both had offices on the first floor of the historic Cannon House Office Building.

Neither returned the Loop’s
e-mails, but here’s hoping the building where they now work has at least a few elevators.

Target: EPA choice’s texts

The Loop had a good chuckle when Gina McCarthy, the nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, joked during one of her confirmation hearings that she couldn’t possibly misuse instant messaging — because she was too old to know how to use the technology in the first place.

But she seems perhaps too adept at texting. The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank and EPA critic, is suing to uncover text messages that CEI says McCarthy sent during her Capitol Hill hearings. CEI spokesman Brian McNicoll says the think tank learned from a “source within the agency” that McCarthy was using her government-issued phone to send texts during the sessions.

The think tank says in its suit that “a senior Agency official cautioned McCarthy to cease using that function on her PDA, due to concerns about the propriety of her texting about Members of Congress specifically on days when she testified before either the House or Senate.”

The institute requested the info last month under the Freedom of Information Act, but the EPA didn’t provide it within the 20 days required by the disclosure law. The EPA didn’t respond to the Loop’s request for comment.

Aside from wondering what, exactly, McCarthy said about the lawmakers peppering her with questions (potential snark alert!), CEI wants to affirm that text messages are agency records obtainable by FOIA.

McNicoll says the EPA has yet to turn over text messages either in response to FOIA requests or to requests from congressional oversight investigators. CEI has long been critical of the EPA’s record-keeping, and it played a role in revealing that former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson and others used e-mail accounts with fake names to conduct agency business.

In other words, nothing to LOL about.

With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/
intheloop
. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

 
Read what others are saying