By ADAM LIPTAK
Published: June 28, 2011
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court term that ended Monday was marked by accomplishment and anticipation. The court continued its work on two signature projects of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.: defending free speech and curbing big lawsuits. And it dropped occasional hints about the blockbusters on the horizon.
The First Amendment dominated the term, with the court ruling for funeral protesters, the makers of violent video games, drug marketers and politicians who decline public financing. The American commitment to free expression, the court said, cuts across politics and commerce, requires tolerance of offensive speech and forbids the government from stepping in when powerful voices threaten to dominate public debate.
In cases involving the nation’s largest private employer, Wal-Mart, and its second-largest cellphone company, AT&T Mobility, the court tightened the rules for class actions and made it easier for companies to do away with class actions entirely by using form contracts.
All of the decisions this term were scrutinized for clues about the arc of the Roberts court as it settles into a period of consolidation and awaits a series of colossal cases, notably the challenges to the health care law championed by President Obama. This term was significant, but the next one may include the most important clash between the Supreme Court and a president since the New Deal.
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