Where You Hang Your Robe

Posted February 19, 2007 at 1:42pm

HOH admits to being a bit of a looky-loo. She loves real estate open houses and people who leave their shades up at night. And she has been known to peer into a medicine cabinet or two that were not, strictly speaking, her own. [IMGCAP(1)]

And under the principle that the homes of celebrities (even the minor, for-Washington kind) are even more interesting than those belonging to the rest of us, HOH was thrilled to get a sneak peek at the New Jersey home of none other than Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. For $965,000, the eight-year-old, four-bedroom house in the quiet township of West Caldwell could be yours. But checking out the venerable justice’s faux-French furniture? Free!

A source familiar with the property forwarded a link to the online listing, which includes a photo tour of a number of the home’s rooms — although, sadly, not the bedroom. Prudential real estate agent Maria Rampinelli, who represents the property, said she couldn’t offer any information about its owner, but she helpfully directed us to call Alito’s offices.

A public information staffer at the Supreme Court wouldn’t comment on the justice’s living quarters. Despite others’ tight lips, HOH is happy to dish about the dwelling itself.

The house is your typical, newish suburban home, with most of the furnishings and personal effects removed, likely to give it a more spacious look for potential buyers (have we been watching too much HGTV?). Some of the furniture is of the ornately scrolled, wrought-iron variety thought to give suburban spaces a vaguely expensive European flavor.

Our favorite room is the home office, where viewers can only imagine that some of the Supreme Court decision-writing magic happens. A bookshelf lined with tomes (alas, it isn’t clear enough to tell whether the justice favors Danielle Steele or Milton Friedman) dominates the room. And a cozy-looking leather armchair, perfect for huddling over amicus briefs, is in the corner.

And here’s a feature certain to assure would-be buyers: Unlike its owner, the house doesn’t lean to the right at all.

Hy-Joe-thermia. Most Washingtonians are dealing with the freakishly arctic weather by bundling up, planning errands and commutes to minimize time outdoors, and running from warm house to car while swearing under their frosty breath. But one Member of Congress was gearing up to take a nice, looong stroll this past weekend.

Despite forecasted temperatures well below freezing, Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) was set to walk the four and a half miles from Georgetown, where he lives, to the Capitol to cast his vote Saturday on the Iraq War resolution.

Lieberman, an orthodox Jew, does not ride in cars on the Sabbath, the day of rest and celebration that begins at sundown on Fridays and continues until after sundown on Saturdays.

Lieberman spokesman Marshall Wittmann, who apparently wasn’t planning to accompany his perambulating boss, called the walk “invigorating.” He said Lieberman planned to attend services in the morning at Kesher Israel, the Georgetown synagogue near his home where he is a member, before jaunting to the Capitol. If the vote was early in the day, the Senator planned to make the trek home afterward on foot. But if he hung around until after sunset, he could travel home in a much-comfier, toasty car.

Although strict observance of the Sabbath would preclude most work, Lieberman usually casts votes on the rare Friday evening or Saturday sessions.

Saturday votes in the Senate may be infrequent, but they’re not unheard of, and Wittmann estimates there have been an average of one per year during Lieberman’s tenure. This one, however, was going to be one for the record books.

“I don’t know that it’s the coldest walk he’s made,” Wittmann said Friday. “But it’s going to be chilly.”

Ranking Envy? Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) hardly needs to pad his résumé. We’re talking about a guy who’s served in the Senate for a kajillion years (OK, only 30), and has racked up plenty of impressive legislative accomplishments along the way.

So we were surprised when an eagle-eyed spy alerted us to the “About Orrin” section of Hatch’s Web site, where the Senator erroneously claims to be the “ranking Republican” on the Finance Committee (Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley begs to differ), the Judiciary Committee (fightin’ words to Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter) and the Intelligence Committee (au contraire, Missouri Sen. Kit Bond might say).

In fact, Hatch isn’t the ranking member on any of those committees, although we’d love to see him take on Grassley, Specter and Bond in some sort of Senatorial cage match — oh, heck, we’d even settle for a good thumb-wrestling bout.

But don’t start placing bets just yet. A Hatch spokesman explained that the committee assignments portion of the Senator’s Web site hasn’t been updated since the Republicans lost their majority status at the beginning of this session. Before then, Hatch actually was the highest-ranking Republican (behind the respective chairman) on each of those panels. “It’s an oversight,” spokesman Peter Carr ‘fessed up.

And, he joked, the reason for the error might be deep-seated. “I guess we’re still in denial,” Carr said. “It’s hard to accept that we’re no longer in the majority.”

Clay Aiken, He’s Not. Rep. John Hall (D-N.Y.), who co-founded the rock band Orleans, may have scored major hits in the 1970s with the songs “Dance with Me” and “Still the One,” but he’s the first to admit he wouldn’t make it very far on today’s cutthroat TV singing competition “American Idol.”

“I would not have won,” he said during a recent interview. “I’m more of a player and a songwriter. I’m not a showstopper as a singer. ‘American Idol’ is focused on showstopping singing — that’s it. They don’t have to play an instrument. They don’t have to write. They just need personality and a big voice and good for them. At least it’s music. It’s musical education in a way. I wish at some point somebody would do a show for people who actually play or arrange or write.”

Then he had a bright idea.

“Maybe I should legislate it,” the freshman Representative joked. “There ought to be a law.”

Bree Hocking contributed to this report.

Please send your hot tips, juicy gossip or comments to hoh@rollcall.com.