The Supreme Court on Monday struck down part of a law that bans offensive trademarks in a ruling that is expected to help the Washington Redskins in their legal fight over the team name.
The justices ruled that the 71-year-old trademark law barring disparaging terms infringes free speech rights.
The ruling is a victory for the Asian-American rock band called the Slants, but the case was closely watched for the impact it would have on the separate dispute involving the Washington football team. The decision extended all the way to Grand Forks, North Dakota, where die-hard “Sioux fans” breathlessly speculated that the decision would rescue the “Fighting Sioux” moniker which was dumped by an NCAA requirement that deemed the nickname offensive.
However, the Supreme Court ruling did not apply according to the Grand Forks Herald which stated the following:
But the issue with the Fighting Sioux logo/nickname was never the federal government. There was no beef with the University of North Dakota’s trademark. The issue was the NCAA, a private organization, classifying the logo/nickname as offensive and issuing sanctions against UND unless it’s changed.
The Supreme Court’s opinion about the 1st Amendment and trademark registrations really has no bearing on the NCAA’s opinion of whether “Fighting Sioux” is offensive or not.
It’s time for the pro-Fighting Sioux folks to hang it up.
The NCAA would have allowed the Sioux nickname if North Dakota had gained approval from two area Dakota Sioux tribes. However, the University was unable to strike a deal with both tribes so they will remain the ‘Fighting Hawks’.