The Supreme Court was in a surly mood last week, giving the advocates in Apprendi v. New Jersey a hard time all around. It may have been a sign of spring its crunch time, cranking out decisions even as it hears new cases, big and small.

Apprendi challenges an unusual New Jersey hate crime law that allows judges rather than juries to increase a criminal sentence upon finding by a “preponderance of the evidence” that the defendant was motivated by racial or other kinds of bias.

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