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Friday morning docket: Pay ball!

Next week Congress returns from a two week homestand. Today, justices of the U.S. Supreme Court will conference privately, and may release some orders (we’ll keep you posted). Meanwhile Sunday is inauguration night – for the Washington Nationals, who play their first game in their shiny new stadium.

Other news inside the Beltway:

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments this week in a case considering whether defendants deemed mentally competent enough to stand trial should also be deemed competent enough to represent themselves. (WaPo)

Justice Antonin Scalia thinks the media – including The New York Times - get it wrong. (AP).

The first official estimate of the total number of convicts eligible for deportation indicates it would cost at least $2 billion a year to find and deport all of them. (NYT)

The chief and several staffers from the EPA planned a tao-week trip to Australia – and members of Congress are not too happy about that. (AP)

Maryland Congressman Albert Wynn, who lost a primary reelection bid last month, will step down before his term ends to go back to practicing law. He’ll leave congress in June to become a partner at Washington firm Dickstein Shapiro. (AP via CBS News)

Senator Christopher Dodd said the banking committee he chairs will hold a public hearing into the controversial takeover of troubled investment bank Bear Stearns Thursday. (AFP)

Meanwhile the Federal Reserve said it would hold public meetings next month on the offer by Bank of America to acquire Countrywide Financial. (NYT)

Answering critics who say politics interferes with Justice Department investigations and prosecutions, Attorney General Michael Mukasey said Thursday that the department will crack down on crooked politicians and public officials. “The investigation and prosecution of public corruption [is] among the highest obligations of law enforcement, and it should come as no surprise that I consider it to be one of the top priorities of the Department of Justice,” Mukasey said. (AP)

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