The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a law that prohibits the government from registering trademarks that “disparage” others violates the First Amendment, a decision that could impact the Washington Redskins’ efforts to hang on to its controversial name.
Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. delivered the opinion for a largely united court. He said the law could not be saved just because it evenhandedly prohibits disparagement of all groups.
“That is viewpoint discrimination in the sense relevant here: Giving offense is a viewpoint,” Alito wrote.
He added that the disparagement clause in the law “offends a bedrock First Amendment principle: Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend.”
All of the participating justices — Neil M. Gorsuch was not on the court when the case was argued — joined that part of Alito’s opinion. Four justices peeled off from parts of the opinion where they say Alito opined on more than what was needed to decide the case.
The trademark office in 2011 said registering the trademark of the Slants, an Asian American rock group, would violate a part of the 1946 Lanham Trademark Act that prohibits registration of a trademark that “may disparage . . . persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.”
The office said the name was likely to disparage a significant number of Asian Americans. But founder Simon Tam said the point of the band’s name is just the opposite: an attempt to reclaim a slur and use it as “a badge of pride.”
I wonder how this decision will affect license plates? The State of Virginia rejects all sorts of verbiage. The real question in my mind is, where will this decision leave the Sons of Confederate Veterans? They had their plates pulled because the plates displayed one of the Confederate flags. I expect the “Sons” will be getting their license plates back in the very near future complete with Confederate flag.
<——–Plate without its flag
How will this decision affect the Redskins as a trademarked team? Is it too soon to tell? These are interesting times. I personally feel that we have gone just a little too far with all of this making nice. People just need to use good manners.
The Redskins have been Redskins for over 50 years. Perhaps this settles the argument.