News and information useful to Cleveland-Marshall College of Law students, faculty and staff.


With SCOTUS’ Tam Decision, Indians Logo May Be Safe in the US.

A unanimous Supreme Court ruled today that the federal government’s power to ban all trademark protections for names it deems to be offensive violates the Constitution’s First Amendment.  The Tam case (Matal v. Tam) involved a rock band called the Slants. The Slants consist of four Asian Americans.  The band acknowledges that its name has been used as a racial slur; however, they say that its name is an attempt to reclaim the racial slur to take away its power.

The band’s application to trademark its name was denied by the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) in 2011. The PTO can deny any trademark that alludes to immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter; or matter which may disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute. The Supreme Court ruled the disparagement clause violates the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause.

So it appears, with this ruling the Washington Redskins trademark denial lawsuit will be settled in favor of the football team.  Also, the Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo logo may be safe from trademark denial in the United States.  However, as we posted about recently, the Indians are still facing a fight over the logo in Canada.

Free Online Research Tools: Oyez.org

  Oyez is a multimedia archive dedicated to providing free access for all to materials from and about the Supreme Court of the United States. The project is maintained by Cornell’s Legal Information Institute (LII), the Chicago-Kent College of Law, and Justia.com. An audio recording system was installed in the Court in October of 1955, and Oyez offers an extensive collection of transcript-synchronized and searchable audio recordings. Audio recordings can be accessed by locating a case, then clicking on the oral argument link. Once the media window opens, users can search within the transcript, play the entire recording, or click on a paragraph in the transcript to jump to that clip in the recording. Unfortunately, not all post-1955 cases have audio recordings available due to degradation of the original reels and other issues as explained here.

Oyez also features full text Supreme Court opinions, along with case summaries and decision information. If you are interested in learning more about individual justices from any time in the Court’s history, Oyez has detailed biographies. You can also view a virtual tour of the Supreme Court building and justices’ chambers.

This Just In: Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck

imbecilesOne of America’s great miscarriages of justice, the Supreme Court’s infamous 1927 Buck v. Bell decision made government sterilization of “undesirable” citizens the law of the land.  This decision led to the sterilization of 70,000 Americans.

This book is a page turner on this scary chapter in American history.  Author Adam Cohen tells the dark story the Supreme Court’s decision to champion eugenic sterilization for the greater good of the country. In 1927, when the nation was caught up in eugenic fervor, the justices allowed Virginia to sterilize Carrie Buck, a perfectly normal young woman, for being an “imbecile.”

Listen to the NPR program “Fresh Air” discuss this book and story here.

Students and Lawyers: Have a Better Attitude than Scalia

A recent op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times by University of California at Irvine law dean Erwin Chemerinsky states that Justice Scalia’s aggressive and confrontational style are a bad influence. Dean Chemerinsky finds students starting to replicate Scalia’s style and finds this trend troubling. As Chemerinsky states: “If legal professionals ignore Scalia’s meanness or — worse — pass around his insults at cocktail parties like Wildean witticisms, they’ll encourage a new generation of peevish, callous scoffers.”

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg Ice Cream?

RBGRuth Bader Ginger ice cream? What about Sonya SotomayOreo Mint Cookie? Ben and Jerry’s ice cream has paid homage to 20 people or groups in the past according to a recent Buzzfeed article but only 2 were female. To rectify this imbalance, a petition has been started on Change.org for the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg inspired flavor.

Justice Ginsburg is the first Jewish woman to serve on the US Supreme Court. Ginsburg also spent a considerable portion of her legal career as an advocate for the advancement of women’s rights as a constitutional principle.