The nation’s highest court grilled advocates on both sides of this case which will decide if the band has a right to trademark a name some consider disparaging to Asian Americans.
The eight justices must decide if the denial is a violation of the band’s right to free speech.
The Los Angeles Times reports Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked if free speech meant the government had to endorse it. She pointed out no one is denying the bands right to use the name.
Other justices wondered aloud where the line is really drawn, drawing comparisons to a person’s right to engage in any conversation they want in a public setting.
“You want us to say trademark laws is just like a public park. That’s it. That’s your argument,” Forbes quoted Justice Anthony Kennedy asking the attorney for the patent office.
The issue has divided the Asian American community with many backing the band’s right to take a disparaging term and turning it into a positive.
Others back the government, fearing a victory for the band will mean sports teams with names like the Redskins which some consider racist towards Native Americans will be affirmed.
Band leader Simon Tam has tried to draw a distinction between his case and that of the Redskins, saying the cases are unrelated.
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