Monday, January 16, 2017

The Intersection Between Free Speech and Rules Protecting Groups from « Disparagement » —"The Slants" ??

The U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing a case January 18th brought by a rock group consisting of Asian-Americans who want to call their group « The Slants » and whose attempt to register this name was blocked by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office which has a rule which bars «disparaging» words. A well-known example of a «disparaging» word would be the « N-word » to describe an African-American. A « slant » is a little-known term which could be seen as a disparaging reference to Asian-Americans. The story about this case, Lee v. Tam, can be found on « words you’ll hear » on NPR’s All Things Considered. 3 min 54 sec, transcript available.
You can find out more about the case from a legal perspective on SCOTUSblog which organized an online symposium about it and you can see a picture of the group here with an article about the case.