The dialogue between Supreme Court justices and the Obama administration continues. During oral argument Tuesday in Dillon v. United States, Justice Anthony Kennedy pursued a line of questions that would be hard to interpret as other than critical of Obama administration policy (and the policy of previous administrations too) on commutations and pardons.

The case asks whether federal sentencing judges can reduce the prison terms of defendants like Percy Dillon by an amount greater than what the U.S. Sentencing Commission called for when it reduced the sentences for certain crack cocaine offenders in 2007. The justices were struggling with whether reducing his sentence would be a resentencing, a modification of the first sentence, or even something akin to a commutation.

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