The Supreme Court affirmed today that a Trademark law’s restriction on registration of disparaging marks violates the free speech guarantees of the US Constitution. In the case of Matal v. Tam, the Court (as Ethics Alarms predicted over a year ago) ruled that the government cannot legally deny a trademark to companies or other applicants solely on the basis of the name being regarded as “offensive.”
The case concerned an Asian-American band called The Slants, but the decision effectively settles the Washington Redskins’ fight to retain the trademark on its nickname. Harry Reid, also engaging in unconstitutional infringement of free speech, had his Democrats in the Senate send a threatening letter to team owner Dan Snyder, while the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), taking its cues from the Obama Administration theme that race and victim-mongering trumps basic rights, ruled that the Washington NFL team’s name was “disparaging to Native Americans,” and cancelled six of its federal trademark registrations. The team appealed that verdict, and team owner Dan Snyder has vowed not to cave to illegal bullying from the government.
Thanks to the ruling—did I mention that it was unanimous?—the PTO will begin allowing registration of disparaging marks and will not cancel Registered marks because they are disparaging.
The last time I addressed this issue, in December of 2015, I wrote,
“I would like to see Snyder fight off the unethical government speech bullies, foil the political correctness hordes, and then, after he hasn’t heard a peep about team for a couple of years quietly change the anachronistic team name on his own volition. It’s time. The message sent by capitulating to the activists trying to force him to change, however, would be the same dangerous message sent by today’s college administrators, which is that a claim of offense doesn’t have to be reasonable to effectively muzzle speech, just persistent.”
I also wrote, somewhat more passionately ,in an earlier post,
Yes, I know that the Obama Administration and Harry Reid’s Senate regard the U.S. Constitution as an arcane annoyance and an impediment to their Leftist, nanny sate, politically correct-or-else Nirvana. Still, when progressives find themselves on the wrong side of the ACLU, they might want to consider whether they made a wrong turn somewhere….This is how this administration operates: it makes it very clear, though public statements, how it wants its supposedly non-political, objective agencies to rule, always based on pleasing a pro-Democrat demographic. It is a blatant strategy to rig the system and distort fairness, due process and justice for political gain. As we can see in the examples of the I.R.S. scandal and here, and, less successfully, in Obama’s inept efforts to convict the military’s sexual harassers before they stood trial, it is SOP, happily ignored by most journalists because they are too corrupt, biased or dim to realize that just because they dislike the targets of this governmental abuse now, the damage it does to our national ideals and values is devastating….I repeat, because I have had to endure the insults of the political correctness bullies implying otherwise, I don’t like the Redskins name, I actively dislike Dan Snyder, and if the D.C. football team disbanded tomorrow, I wouldn’t shed a tear. But …this campaign is about policing speech. If the fact that the government is trying to use its power to do that doesn’t alarm, anger and frighten you—if you don’t find that a great deal more offensive than the name of a city’s pro football team—your priorities are warped, I question your commitment to American values, and I regard you as a menace to my liberty and my rights as a citizen.
And if you don’t think this kind of thing was a big reason that Donald Trump is in the White House, you haven’t been paying attention.
You can read the decision here.