Published: Tue, June 20, 2017
USA | By Kelli Rowe

Redskins owner says he's thrilled with ruling

The court ruled 8-0 in favor of The Slants, an Asian-American rock band based out of Portland, Oregon.

The band was originally formed by respondent Simon Tam, who chose the moniker to represent his group's pride in their shared ethnicity and "take on these stereotypes that people have about us, like the slanted eyes, and own them".

On Monday, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling that trademarks are protected by the First Amendment, even if they are offensive.

Philip Yenyo, executive director of the American Indian Movement of OH, says he does not think Monday's court ruling will help teams like the Washington Redskins and Indians keep monikers that some find offensive. The Supreme Court ruling in the Slants case will likely give the Redskins leverage in their own court battle.

Following the ruling, the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) released a statement saying: "This is a major victory for the First Amendment, and establishes that the government can not selectively grant trademarks based on its approval or disapproval of a speaker's viewpoint". Justice Alito, the author of today's opinion, unequivocally wrote that the Court now "hold [s] that this provision violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment".

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The long and winding road regarding whether Washington will lose federal trademark protection for its name and logo isn't officially over, but it essentially is.

Asian-American rock band The Slants pose for a photo with the Statue of Liberty in the distance behind them.

Redskins attorney Lisa Blatt said the team was "thrilled" with the court's decision.

The Slants won support during their court fight from both liberal and conservative groups, ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Justice Elena Kagan asked whether the First Amendment rule that prohibits the government from discriminating against disfavored views applies to the trademark's ban on "bad" trademarks.

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The government appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court. The Washington football team's case, however, is moving on a separate track.

"The Redskins made similar arguments after the trademark office ruled in 2014 that the name offends American Indians and canceled the team's trademark", the AP reports.

The federal government said in court papers that it should not be required to approve trademarks "containing crude references to women based on parts of their anatomy; the most repellent racial slurs and white-supremacist slogans; and demeaning illustrations of the prophet Mohammed and other religious figures".

In response to Monday's ruling, Snyder released a statement via the team: "I am THRILLED!"

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