On October 3, 2016, the Supreme Court rejected a long-shot appeal from the Washington Redskins, refusing to hear their case prior to the Fourth Circuit’s ruling. The team had attempted the rare “certiorari before judgment” because it wanted its case heard alongside The Slants’ similar case, which was accepted by the court on September 29.
Like the Redskins’ case, the band argued that the board’s refusal to trademark the band name “The Slants” violated its right to free speech. Though the Patent and Trademark Office originally found that the term “slants” disparaged people of Asian descent, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the band.
As a result, the Redskins hoped to have their case viewed in a similar light, arguing that the team name pays homage to Native Americans and that to disallow this would impinge upon their First Amendment rights. Unfortunately for the team, the Fourth Circuit has yet to rule on its case, and it would have been unusual for the Supreme Court to ignore this and hear the case anyway. Ultimately, how the court rules on the band’s case could have a significant effect on the Redskins.