The United States Supreme Court just ruled that the government cannot stop someone from getting a trademark on a name that the government considers “hate speech.”
This is an important win for freedom of speech. As I’ve said here many times, the 1st Amendment is meaningless if it only protects speech we all agree with. As the Court held:
[The idea that the government may restrict] speech expressing ideas that offend. . .strikes at the heart of the First Amendment. Speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar ground is hateful; but the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express “the thought that we hate.”
The case involved an Asian-American rock band called “The Slants.” They wanted to trademark their name, but the government said no, you can’t, because it’s hate speech.
This case basically puts an end to the lawsuits against the sports teams with insulting names, such as the Washington Redskins.
Should the Redskins change their name? Absolutely. Should they be forced to do so by the government, making the determination as to what speech is acceptable for us to use? Absolutely not.
Speech we all agree with doesn’t need a 1st Amendment.