Redskins are ‘thrilled’ by Supreme Court decision striking down law banning offensive trademarks

The Supreme Court extended trademark protection to words and names that may be offensive. (June 19, 2017) (Sign up for our free video newsletter here


The Washington Redskins got some good news Monday morning when the Supreme Court ruled that an Asian American band can call itself The Slants, even though the name might offend some people.

That appears to mean that the Redskins also will be able to continue using their name, even though it offends people as well.

Team owner Daniel Snyder was so psyched by the news that he needed all caps to describe how he felt.


“I am THRILLED!” he said in a statement Monday morning. “Hail to the Redskins.”

In 2013, Snyder famously told USA Today that he would not change the team’s name. “You can put that in all caps,” he said at the time.

Snyder never appeared to waver from his stance, even after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office the following year canceled six federal trademarks for the Redskins’ trademark protection on the name because the term is “disparaging to Native Americans.”

The Redskins’ appeal on that decision was put on hold by a federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., until the Supreme Court ruled on the Slants case. That happened Monday, when the high court struck down, by an 8-0 vote, part of a 1946 federal law barring trademarks that may “disparage” people or groups.

“We have said time and time again that the ‘public expression of ideas may not be prohibited merely because the ideas are themselves offensive to some of their hearers,’” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said in the case of Matal vs Tam.

Redskins attorney Lisa Blatt said in a statement that the team feels “vindicated” by the ruling.


“The team is thrilled with today’s unanimous decision as it resolves the Redskins’ longstanding dispute with the government,” she stated. “The Supreme Court vindicated the Team’s position that the 1st Amendment blocks the government from denying or canceling a trademark registration based on the government’s opinion.”

The national Change the Mascot campaign issued a statement following the decision.

“This is an issue we have always believed will not be solved in a courtroom, and this ruling does not change some very clear facts,” campaign leaders Jackie Pata and Ray Halbritter stated. “Washington’s football team promotes, markets and profits from the use of a word that is not merely offensive – it is a dictionary-defined racial slur designed from the beginning to promote hatred and bigotry against Native Americans.”

It added: “If the NFL wants to live up to its statements about placing importance on equality, then it shouldn’t hide behind these rulings, but should act to end this hateful and degrading slur.”

Twitter: @chewkiii



11:40 a.m.: This article has been updated with a statement from the Change the Mascot campaign.

This article was originally posted at 10:40 a.m.