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Citizens United Oral Argument:  At SCOTUSblog, Lyle Denniston and Kristina Moore post information on today's Supreme Court argument in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.  Denniston's post provides his analysis of the argument, while Moore provides links to to the Court's transcript as well as an audio recording from PBS' NewsHour.  Denniston appears to believe that today's oral argument signals the beginning of the end for precedent's set in Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990) and McConnell v. FEC (2003).  He writes that three Justices, Anthony M. Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, seemed to stand firm in their belief that the two precedent's should be overturned, while Justices Ginsburg, Stevens, Breyer and Sotomayor argued for a more narrow ruling.  This made the Chief Justice and Justice Alito the two Justices for supporters of campaign finance laws to convince.  Denniston does not believe they were successful.  He writes that although "supporters of such laws had fashioned an array of arguments they hoped would lead Roberts and Alito to shy away from casting their votes to create a majority to free corporations to spend their own treasury money to influence federal elections.  None of those arguments seemed to appeal to either Roberts or Alito."  Tony Mauro also reports that the "Supreme Court Majority [was] Critical of Campaign Law Precedents" for Blog of Legal Times, and posts pictures, taken after arguments, of the the lawyers who argued Citizen.  Mauro believes that former solicitor general Theodore Olson, and the attorney for Citizen United, may have gained the upper hand with his argument that corporations are entitled to the same protection under the First Amendment as individuals when it comes to participating in elections.  

"Uptick" for Sentences Below Guidelines:  At Sentencing Law and Policy, Doug Berman posts on recent U.S. Sentencing data that shows an increase in below-guideline sentences.  Preliminary Quarterly Data from the U.S. Sentencing Commission shows that of 57,846 cases, 1,034 were above guide-line range and 23,581 were below guideline range.  14,471 of these were government sponsored (meaning "the prosecution initiated, proposed, or stipulated to a sentence outside of the guideline range, either pursuant to a plea agreement or as part of a non-plea negotiation with the defendant") and 9,110 were not.  Berman reports that the data shows "another...uptick in below-guideline sentences imposed by judges," with judges deciding 15.8% of the time to impose a below-guideline sentence.  This is up from the 13.8% below guideline sentencing Berman noticed before President Obama's election.

The Economics of a Border Fence with Mexico:  At Freakonomics Blog, Daniel Hamermesh writes that last week's horrific killings at the Ciudad Juarez drug treatment center demonstrate how "Fewer Drugs in America Means More Problems for Mexico."  The murders, according the Hamermesh, are an example of "what happens in a market when restrictions on supply are imposed in a related market."  Because of increased border enforcement it is harder to ship drugs from Mexico into the United States and Mexico's drug supply has increased.  Increased domestic competition has pushed the price of drugs down in Mexico and caused an increase in Mexican drug addiction and the violence associated with it.  Hamermesh opines "Sadly, I imagine that the new giant border fence will make shipping drugs to the U.S. even more difficult and result in still more addiction -- and violence -- in Mexico."

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