The Supremes’ summer: Hello, Prague, Innsbruck, Paris . . .

Al Kamen
Columnist June 27, 2013

The Supremes, after a blockbuster term this year, are taking off for their splendid, traditional European vacations, a.k.a. teaching gigs, next month courtesy of various law schools’ summer programs abroad. As usual, the Alps are a popular venue for this intense legal study.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. , after a stop at a judicial conference at the Greenbriar resort this weekend, is off to exquisite Prague for a couple of weeks, thanks to a program by a consortium of law schools.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

Justice Clarence Thomas is headed to a program in Innsbruck, Austria, run by San Antonio’s St. Mary’s University — his first time there, although he is the fifth member of this court to attend.

Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and Elena Kagan are off to the University of the Pacific’s program in stunning Salzburg, Austria. Her first time, his 23rd.

Justice Antonin Scalia is on tap to teach judicial writing at Duke. With all due respect to the other justices, this is one not to miss. (See his dissent in the same-sex marriage case referring to “legalistic argle-bargle.”) He’s then on to Penn State’s program in Florence, Italy. Che bello!

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is lecturing at Tulane’s program, which is conveniently located in Paris.

And Justice Stephen G. Breyer may not have European plans, but he and Kagan are expected in the Rockies at the Aspen Institute.

The court had no information Thursday on summer plans for Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Sonia Sotomayor.

Real page-turners

We’ve been hearing much concern lately about the number of pages in the immigration bill the Senate adopted Thursday and in an amendment authored by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and John H. Hoeven III (R-N.D.).

Good time for a little reminder about official bill text: It ain’t like regular pages, people. The margins are huge. There are far fewer words per page of legislation than on those of your average novel.

It’s the equivalent of those wide-ruled sheets kids write on to practice their penmanship (or used to, back when such things mattered).

The Hoeven-Corker measure is 114 pages; the whole bill is about 1,200. The Loop noted a while back that the immigration bill, then 800 pages, was, in fact, a lighter read than most Harry Potter books. And our pal the Fact Checker roundly smacked down the idea that no one’s had the chance to read the entire darned thing.

To help folks visualize it, at right are the first two pages of the Corker-Hoeven amendment to give readers a flavor of how light on actual words a page of legislation actually is.

Pretty breezy, even by standards of summer beach reads.

Allies in a tokin’ effort

Odd couple alert! Move over, Oscar and Felix: Grover Norquist is a conservative Republican in a suit and a banker’s tie. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) is an openly gay liberal who goes in for the collarless-shirt-under-a-blazer look.

While it’s a little early to call these two very different guys BFFs, they at least both appeared last week at a lobbying day on Capitol Hill for students and other activists advocating the decriminalization of marijuana.

Nothing like pot to bring folks together, right? (Hey, it helped unite the popular girl, the jock, the nerd, and the misfit in the ’80s flick The Breakfast Club, which is practically scientific evidence of its powers.)

Norquist comes at the issue from a libertarian bent. “A lot of folks . . . across the political spectrum recognize this as a federalism issue,” Norquist told the crowd gathered for the event, which was sponsored by Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

“Marijuana legalization is something that should be a conservative issue, and Grover is helping to bolster that argument,” says the student group’s executive director, Aaron Houston , who helped organize the event (and snapped a photo with the pair). “The end is nigh!”

Polis says he, too, welcomes support for the issue — even if it comes from an unlikely source. “We will take all the help we can get to decriminalize marijuana,” Polis tells the Loop.

Senate clears Foxx

The Senate on Thursday voted 100-0 to approve the nomination of Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx as transportation secretary.

The unanimous vote was a rarity for a Cabinet appointee.

Foxx, whose confirmation process was smooth, drew national attention when his city hosted the 2012 Democratic National Convention. As we’ve noted, at 42, Foxx will be the youngest member of the Obama Cabinet.

He’ll replace Ray LaHood at the helm of DOT.

Foxx’s confirmation leaves two Cabinet nominees pending in the Senate: Tom Perez for secretary of labor and Gina McCarthy to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

McCarthy, whose nomination was already meeting with some Republican resistance in the Senate, might have an even tougher time getting approved now that President Obama has revealed a climate-change agenda that’s ticking off Republicans. As our colleague Juliet Eilperin reports: “Now that the president is proceeding with regulating greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, Senate Republicans are likely to be even tougher on McCarthy, who informed them in April the agency was not drafting such regulations.”

More diplomatic choices

The diplomatic corps is beefing up — for the third straight week, President Obama named nominees to embassies around the globe.

This week, the slate included the Democratic National Committee’s executive director, Patrick Gaspard , who will be the new ambo in South Africa. It had long been expected that Gaspard, a former White House political director, would get the coveted gig.

Also getting ambassadorial jobs were two major Obama donors: Miami lawyer Kirk Wagar to Singapore (as the Loop predicted) and Texas philanthropist Alexa Wesner to Austria.

Obama has also nominated renewable energy champion Ron Binz, a former Colorado utility regulator, to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

With Emily Heil

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

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