Friday morning docket: March Madness edition

Good morning. As you check your brackets (who picked Belmont?), here’s a look around Washington:

Congressional lawmakers are still in their home districts (with a few in more exotic locations, like India, in the case of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi). The Supreme Court is in the middle of March oral arguments.

Monday brings the first afternoon oral argument session of the term, with the Court hearing three cases:

In Burgess v. United States, the Court will consider when a federal law hiking the minimum mandatory sentence for a drug distribution charge is triggered.

In United States v. Clintwood Elkhorn Mining, the Court will hear arguments on whether taxpayer refund claims under the Tucker Act, which has a six-year statute of limitations, are preempted by the United States Tax Code, which has a three-year statute of limitations.

In the afternoon Monday, the Court considers whether the Voting Rights Act of 1965 requires Alabama to pre-clear two state court decisions invalidating state and local laws creating a special election for local officials in Riley v. Kennedy.

Tuesday, Attorney General Michael Mukasey will argue the government’s case to the justices in United States v. Ressam.

The Court will also hear whether U.S. courts have jurisdiction to hear habeas corpus petitions brought on behalf of U.S. citizens detained overseas by American military authorities in Munaf v. Geren.

Wednesday, the Court hears arguments in Indiana v. Edwards, asking whether a criminal defendant need only be “literate, competent, and understanding” to invoke his Sixth Amendment right to self-representation.

And in Florida Department of Revenue v. Piccadilly Cafeterias, the Court will hear whether the Bankruptcy Code prohibits states from imposing taxes on pre-confirmation asset sales that are essential to the completion of a reorganization plan.

(Summaries from the folks at the Oyez Project)

Meanwhile,

Scooter Libby got disbarred. (WaPo).

The chairman of the House Financial Services Committee said Wednesday he will push for stricter federal regulation of investment banks (AP).

The White House says the reason President Bush’s popularity rating is so low is because he’s doing a good job. (AP)

The Bush Administration has announced that up to 10 states will be able to use alternative standards under the federal No Child Left Behind law. The administration said the move is meant to help struggling students, but critics of the law said it is evidence that it is simply not working. (AP)

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