Supreme Court: Offensive Speech May be Trademarked

Congress’s 70-year-old ban on registering disparaging terms struck down on free-speech grounds

tim armstrongGuest Contributor: Cincinnati Law Professor Tim Armstrong

An important new Supreme Court decision gives private parties the right to receive federal trademark registration of a term that disparages racial or ethnic minority groups. In Matal v. Tam, the Supreme Court ruled that part of the federal trademark statute is unconstitutional to the extent that it forbids federal trademark registration for terms “which may disparage … persons, living or dead … or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.” To forbid registration of disparaging terms as trademarks, the Court unanimously agreed, violates registrants’ First Amendment rights to free expression even of “ideas that offend.”

At the heart of this case is bass player Simon Tam, a member of a quartet of Asian-American musicians who describe their style as “Chinatown dance rock.” The band chose to name itself “The Slants,” in what the Court described as an attempt to “reclaim … a derogatory term for persons of Asian descent …. and drain its denigrating force.” Continue reading “Supreme Court: Offensive Speech May be Trademarked”

Equal Opportunity Offender

Senator Sessions’ consistent opposition to civil rights makes him wrong for Justice.

As confirmation hearings for Jeff Sessions begin today, some Senators may be tempted to dismiss objections to his elevation as a smear campaign based on ancient history.  But, when it comes to  Sen. Sessions,  the past is prologue.  Sessions is the wrong person to be the nation’s  top law enforcer.  Continue reading “Equal Opportunity Offender”

Tyranny of the Minority

Our Constitutional Democracy Requires the Electoral College to Vote for Clinton.

Guest Contributors:  

Nancy Chi Cantalupo and Judith E. Koons, Barry University School of Law

 

No matter how one interprets the proper purposes and history of the Electoral College, if the electors who make up the 2016 Electoral College want to vote based on either Constitutional or democratic principles—and not just political expediency or blind obedience—they must vote for Hillary Clinton to be President of the United States. If the Electoral College instead proceeds as it has in the modern era, it will elect Donald Trump, who represents, at best, a minority of voters.

Trump lost the popular vote to Clinton by over 2.8 million as of early December, but because of the way the Electoral College now works, 80,000 votes in three states were decisive.  All three of these states have faced demands for a recount, an effort funded by nearly 140,000 donors skeptical about the integrity of the original vote count at least in part due to significant, credible evidence that a hostile foreign government engaged in cyberattacks to sway the election in favor of Trump.

A portion of this minority has already proven itself tyrannical in a very real way.  In the few weeks since the election was “called” on November 9th, nearly 900 hate crimes have been directed at immigrants, members of the LGBT community, people of color, Muslims, and women. Over 180 of these crimes have taken place in K-12 schools.

But the hateful threats and violence perpetrated by this minority of the minority are not the only way an Electoral College vote for Trump would enable a “tyranny of the minority.”   Continue reading “Tyranny of the Minority”