Justice-designate Anthony M. Kennedy, in the market for a house in the Washington area, need not worry about a frustrating commute to work.

Congress recently removed a legal cloud over the high court's car pool perks so Kennedy, and his colleagues, can whisk from home to office whenever they want.

The new authorization, tucked away in the monster catchall spending bill that passed Dec. 21, cleared up 1985 Senate language that limited door-to-door service by the court's fleet of six Lincoln Town Cars and police drivers to "legitimate security needs."

The justices, reacting to news accounts in 1986 of limo use to ferry justices' family members, friends and laundry about town, tightened up on nonbusiness use of the cars.

Some of the older justices, unable for medical reasons to drive to work, then started using their own cars, driven by court personnel, for home-to-office travel. Justice William J. Brennan Jr. reportedly bought a car so he would not be seen as doing something untoward.

Only Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who has a special authorization for his limo, and Justice Harry A. Blackmun, recurrent recipient of death threats, are routinely driven to and from work in court cars by court police.

Justices Byron R. White, John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O'Connor and Antonin Scalia generally drive themselves to and from work.

Senate sources say the new language, proposed by Sen. Dale Bumpers (D-Ark.), generally sanctions all business-related travel, but it does not necessarily authorize use of the cars for purely private outings.

Such private chauffeuring, as O'Connor explained in a 1986 letter to Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.), could be authorized by court marshal Alfred Wong "when deemed appropriate by the justices as a matter of routine security and protection."

"This need exists particularly when parking may be unavailable or at such a distance as to raise concerns for personal safety of a justice," O'Connor said. "An example of this was when a justice {O'Connor} was transported at night to an Arena Stage benefit."

None of the justices has so far taken advantage of the new authorization, sources said yesterday.