As the U.S. Supreme Court begins its new term this week, longtime Court watcher Tony Mauro chimes in with an interesting observation: the Court's docket contains not a single First Amendment case.

Mauro's article suggests several possible explanations for this. For one, the justices might be satisfied that the most pressing questions regarding free speech have (for now) been answered. Another possibility is that recent years have been unusually heavy on free-speech issues, and yet another is that the justices are tired of revisiting the same subject over and over.

So if the First Amendment is out of style, then what will the Court keep itself busy with over the next nine months? Adam Liptak of The New York Times previewed the term's biggest cases late last week; they include high-profile disputes over affirmative action and the the Voting Rights Act.