Arguments concerning the phrase “Trump too small” were put forth before the U.S. Supreme Court in connection with a trademark application submitted by a California-based attorney.
Following the initiation of the hearing, Justice Samuel Alito expressed his intention to abstain from engaging in the case, stating, “You don’t need my vote to win this case.”
In regard to Donald Trump, Senator Marco Rubio made an inappropriate remark during the 2016 presidential debate. Steve Elster, an employment attorney and progressive activist, filed an application with the trademark office in 2018 to register the phrase “Trump too small.” Elster was the pioneer in the commercialization of T-shirts bearing a printed slogan and the inscription “Trump’s package is too small” on the reverse side.
The trademark office denied the individual’s application on the grounds that written consent from Trump was necessary in accordance with the Lanham Act of 1946. The court deliberated on Wednesday the agency’s appeal of a prior lower court order that reversed its prior denial of attorney Elster’s trademark application.
Elster argues that the prohibition on registering a trademark that disparages a public figure violates his freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Constitution. As per a report by Newsweek, the aforementioned allegation seemed to elicit a sense of doubt from the justices of the Supreme Court.
The legal counsel for the United States Patent and Trademark Office expeditiously declared during the initial portion of the hearing that the subject under consideration concerns the requirement for federal trademark registration or a “government benefit,” and not freedom of expression.
Justice Alito responded by asserting that “You don’t need my vote to win your case. If I could not vote to sustain this without saying this is the attachment of a condition to a government benefit. Perhaps you’ve simply concluded that Alito isn’t worth it in this situation.”
Jimmy Hoover, a writer for The National Law Journal who specializes in the Supreme Court, shared Justice Alito’s response on X (formerly Twitter), where he underscored the complexities inherent in the case in question.
Hoover writes that “Alito says that’s a ‘dangerous’ road to go down, and Gorsuch hints USPTO can win based on long history of similar TM laws. Alito lays his cards on the table, says he won’t vote to uphold the name-bar simply because it’s a condition on a gov’t benefit, and asks for another theory.”
On the contrary, Judge Neil Gorsuch emphasized the established prohibition on trademarks that make reference to living individuals, implying that during that time period, there was no evident apprehension regarding the violation of free speech rights.
In response, he suggested, “Why not just look to the history?”
Judge Sonia Sotomayor inquired whether there had been any prior restrictions imposed on the freedom of expression. The speaker observed that in the event Elster fails to secure a trademark for the term, selling the T-shirts would not be hindered in any way.
As oral arguments continue, it is expected that the court will uphold the decision of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to reject the application.
A recent judgment by the Supreme Court in a separate legal issue has attracted considerable attention and is expected to be well received by various conservative factions.
Certiorari has been granted to a case by the Supreme Court of the United States to determine the extent to which the government can compel social media companies to engage in the censorship or suppression of particular content.
The high court declared the issuance of a writ of certiorari in connection with a legal action brought against the Biden administration by Republican attorneys general from Missouri and Louisiana. The legal action seeks to limit the authority of the federal government to compel social media platforms (including Facebook, X, and YouTube) to censor particular information, even though it does not provide explicit instructions for such censorship. Both states have maintained that taking such an action would unequivocally violate the First Amendment, which safeguards the right to free expression.
Friday, Solicitor General of Louisiana Liz Murrill issued a statement expressing her gratitude for the ruling rendered by the highest court.
“We are pleased to learn that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear this case, giving us yet another opportunity to defend the people from this assault on our First Amendment rights,” Murrill stated. “It brings us one step closer to reestablishing the protections guaranteed to us in the Constitution and under the First Amendment.
“We hope that the Supreme Court will agree that this gross abuse of power must stop and never happen again,” she went on.
According to The Western Journal, it is worth mentioning that…
The legal action, originally initiated in May 2022 by Attorney General Jeff Landry of Louisiana and Attorney General Eric Schmitt of Missouri, pertained to the manner in which the government exerted influence on tech behemoths to censor specific data, specifically concerning the COVID-19 pandemic and the effectiveness or potential risks associated with the use of vaccines, masks, and other preventative measures.
U.S. District Court Judge Terry Doughty initiated the legal proceedings on the case on July 4 with a decision that prohibited several federal agencies from engaging with companies in a manner that could be construed as collusion. These agencies included the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the U.S. Census Bureau, the FBI, and the Department of Justice.
As per a September report by the Associated Press, the ruling of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, situated in New Orleans, was predominantly favorable to both states. However, the court “tossed out broader language in an order that a Louisiana-based federal judge had issued July 4 that effectively blocked multiple government agencies from contacting platforms like Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) to urge the removal of content.”
Nevertheless, in addition to awarding certiorari, the Supreme Court stayed the injunction issued by Doughty. It is worth mentioning that dissenting justices Neil Gorsuch, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas, all of whom belong to the conservative faction of the court, voiced their concerns regarding the injunction and urged for its preservation.