The Supreme Court announced that it won’t listen to an appeal by the Washington Redskins football team concerning the constitutionality of a federal law that gives the United States Patent and Trademark Office the right to refuse the registration of a trademark that insults people either living or dead, institutions, beliefs and national symbols. The copyright was revoked in 2014.
The term “redskin” is considered a mocking racial stereotype, and the fact that the team was founded by an owner who “was identified as the leading racist in the NFL” during his lifetime has never helped the team’s argument that keeping the name is more about tradition than anything else. Pundits like Rush Limbaugh agree with the team, while members of tribes like the Sioux and Ojibwe are opposed to the name. Lawyers for the team believe the cancelation of six trademarks violates the First Amendment. Opponents believe they should just change their name.
Established professional teams have changed names before, but current team owner Daniel Snyder has defended the name, telling USA Today in 2013, “We’ll never change the name.” He said. “It’s that simple. NEVER—you can use caps.”
The ruling still does not force the team to change anything. As CNN points out, “Although the loss of a registration wouldn’t strip the team from being able to use the name, it would bar them from federal benefit protections including the right to exclusive nationwide use of the mark.”