An upcoming case in the United States Supreme Court will ultimately decide whether an Asian-American band will be able to trademark a name that some people find offensive.
The leader of The Slants says that he wants to take on the stereotypes of Asians and own them. As a result, the recording artist applied for a trademark, but was denied because it was ruled that the name might be offensive to some people.
“This is an Asian-American who wants to use the term ‘slants’ and we got in the case,” says attorney John Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute. “The U.S. Court of Appeals, a federal court, said that this violated the First Amendment, it was unconstitutional and there was no justification for such a regulation on commercial speech – and now the Supreme Court has decided to hear the case.”
“There is a big controversy over the use of ‘Redskins’ for the Washington Redskins,” the attorney explains. “So, it will affect a lot of issues out there on First the Amendment.”
Whitehead points out that the Supreme Court has not been very friendly to free speech in recent years.
“The thing we have to understand here is the fellow who wrote the First Amendment, James Madison, said, ‘I wrote the First Amendment to protect the minority against the majority,’ and what he meant by that was those kinds of people that we disagree with – that we might think is offensive – the government should not just them down,” Whitehead explained. “In this particular case, the government is trying to shut down free speech, and I think it’s offensive to the First Amendment.”
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