Friday morning docket: pre-Groundhog Day edition

While we wait for tomorrow’s forecast from Punxsutawney Phil, (UPDATE: Phil has a lawyer! Meet him here on WSJ’s Law Blog) let’s take a look at what’s happening inside the beltway and beyond:

The U.S. Supreme Court will remain in recess next week, but this week the Court released its oral argument schedule for April, which will be a busy month for the justices. The Court is scheduled to consider whether the death penalty is constitutional as a punishment for child rape (Kentucky v. Louisiana), tackle more federal sentencing guideline issues (Greenlaw v. U.S. and Irizarry v. U.S.) and consider when hearsay evidence from the deceased victim in a murder trial can be admitted (Giles v. California) among other cases. (Supreme Court website) SCOTUSBlog examines how the effects of late-term “docket crunch” makes things a lot more stressful for attorneys arguing before the court in the spring than for those arguing in the fall. (SCOTUSBlog).

Meanwhile, across the street, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a measure that will give federal judges from the circuits to the Supremes a pay raise. (AP)

The Senate put off a vote on that House-passed cash-back economic stimulus plan, apparently worried that they couldn’t get stuff done without Hillary and Barack, who were in California being nice to each other in front of a bunch of celebrities. (WaPo, NYTimes)

The economic stimulus bill hasn’t even been passed yet, but already some thieves have been taking advantage of the rebate check proposal by creating a new scheme for stealing people’s identities, the IRS warns. (IRS)

If Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke thought he had won over investors with his two interest rate cuts in just over a week, another think will soon be coming to him. (AP)

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