When Hustler Magazine owner Larry Flynt was brought up on obscenity charges, even the porn peddler’s lawyer said that he was disgusted by what his client sold. However, he also admitted that he would not want to live in a country where even offensive speech was banned, something that spoke to us all, regardless of our level of vice.
The Asian-American rock band, The Slants, won an 8-0 (even liberals agreed) ruling from the Supreme Court on Monday declaring that the “trademark law banning offensive names is unconstitutional” even though it was “deemed racially disparaging by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office,” Fox News has shown.
After an excruciating legal battle that has spanned nearly eight years, we’re beyond humbled and thrilled to have… https://t.co/O5ZNUfAy7Q
— The Slants (@theslants) June 19, 2017
The band from Oregon had been denied a trademark for their name so they “countered that the 70-year-old law at issue violates free-speech rights,” and “Justice Samuel Alito, in the court’s opinion, agreed” we are told.
Alito penned, “The commercial market is well stocked with merchandise that disparages prominent figures and groups, and the line between commercial and non-commercial speech is not always clear, as this case illustrates.
He also wrote, “If affixing the commercial label permits the suppression of any speech that may lead to political or social ‘volatility,’ free speech would be endangered.”
This is wonderful news for sports teams such as the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Indians, the latter of which face problems for their name even though it honors a Native American who played for the team, according to the Conservative Daily Post.
The Slants faced issue because the government bans any trademark or patent which “may disparage … persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs or national symbols.”
The band wanted to play the slur to their favor, much like the rap outfit NWA feels that they have done.
The Justice did say that government still “has an interest in preventing speech expressing ideas that offend,” but that the censorship was too sweeping and broad as it stands.
To this, Alito writes, “The clause reaches any trademark that disparages any person, group, or institution. It applies to trademarks like the following: ‘Down with racists,’ ‘Down with sexists,’ ‘Down with homophobes.’ It is not an anti-discrimination clause; it is a happy-talk clause. In this way, it goes much further than is necessary to serve the interest asserted.”
This victory for the First Amendment and free speech works to highlight the importance of a Supreme Court that reads the law and does not try and write it from the bench. With any luck, this will become a habit of theirs again.