Dept. of Justice Drops Efforts to Force Washington Redskins to Change Team Name

July 3, 2017


The Donald Trump Department of Justice has now closed the books on the Obama administration’s effort to force the Washington Redskins to dump its Native American-based name.


In a letter sent to a federal appeals court, the DOJ noted that a recent Supreme Court case made the DOJ’s effort to force the Redskins to jettison its name pointless.


“Consistent with Tam, the Court should reverse the judgment of the district court and remand the case with instructions to enter judgment in favor of Pro-Football,” Mark Freeman, an attorney for the Justice Department’s civil division, wrote to the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, according to the Associated Press.

The Supreme Court’s decision, Matal v Tam, ruled that a rock band named “The Slants,” whose members are of Asian descent, had a Constitutional right to trademark their name no matter if some people felt it was “offensive” or not.


The court case had a direct impact on the Redskins as the NFL team had been fighting with the Obama DOJ for nearly eight years, after the federal agency pressured the team to drop its nearly 60-year-old name.


The United States Patent and Trademark Office, the federal trademarking authority, had also refused to allow the team to continue trademarking its name based on the pressure brought on by Obama’s DOJ.


But, upon the release of the SCOTUS decision last week, the Washington Redskins released a statement saying that the team had been vindicated.


“The Supreme Court vindicated the Team’s position that the First Amendment blocks the government from denying or canceling a trademark registration based on the government’s opinion,” Redskins attorney Lisa Blatt said on June 19.

Redskins owner Dan Snyder added that he was “thrilled” with the court’s decision in Matal v Tam.


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