Supreme Court’s Busy Week Includes Slants’ Trademark suit
The U.S. Supreme Court considered several high-profile cases this week. Most notably, the justices grappled with how the First Amendment applies to federal trademark law.
The specific issue in Lee v. Tam is whether the federal ban on registering disparaging trademark runs afoul of the Free Speech clause. Simon Tam, who sought to register the name of his band, “The Slants,” argues that the government should not be able to preclude the registration of marks based on their content. Meanwhile, the government maintains that the inability to register a disparaging trademark does not prevent its use.
First Amendment cases are always controversial, and the latest suit before the Court is no exception. Based on oral arguments, it was unclear whether a majority of the justices would go so far as to rule that the Lanham Act’s ban on registering disparaging marks in unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court also considered three other cases. Below is a brief summary:
Lynch v. Dimaya: The case deals with the removal of non-citizens that are convicted of “aggravated felonies.” The Immigration and Nationality Act broadly defines “aggravated felonies.” It also incorporates 18 U.S.C. §16(b), a so-called “residual clause” that defines a “crime of violence” to encompass “any … offense that is a felony and that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense.” The specific question before the Court is “whether 18 U.S.C. 16(b), as incorporated into the Immigration and Nationality Act’s provisions governing an alien’s removal from the United States, is unconstitutionally vague.”
Midland Funding, LLC v. Johnson: The consumer debt collection suit involves the interaction between the Bankruptcy Code and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The two questions the Court must address are: (1) Whether the filing of an accurate proof of claim for an unextinguished time-barred debt in a bankruptcy proceeding violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act; and (2) whether the Bankruptcy Code, which governs the filing of proofs of claim in bankruptcy, precludes the application of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to the filing of an accurate proof of claim for an unextinguished time-barred debt.
Ziglar v. Abbasi: The suit was filed by detainees arrested in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The plaintiffs, a group of Muslim men illegally in the U.S. at the time of the attacks, allege that they were held in detainment centers and subject to harsh treatment, even though the government was aware they were indeed terrorists. The complex questions before the Court revolve around whether the men can pursue their cases against the federal officials who headed the agencies at the time of their detainment.
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- Establishment ClauseFree Exercise Clause
- Freedom of Speech
- Freedoms of Press
- Freedom of Assembly, and Petitition
- The Right to Bear Arms
- Unreasonable Searches and Seizures
- Due Process
- Eminent Domain
- Rights of Criminal Defendants
Preamble to the Bill of Rights
Congress of the United States begun and held at the City of New-York, on Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.
THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.