CourtSide - The FindLaw Breaking Legal News Blog

June 2017 Archives

As we have noted before, the right to free speech has its limits. Threats, obscenity, and defamation can all be illegal. But what about disparaging remarks or racial slurs? And what about government sanction of that speech?

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has a disparagement clause, allowing it to deny trademark applications that "may disparage ... persons, living or dead ... or bring them into contempt, or disrepute." But the Supreme Court today ruled the disparagement clause violates the First Amendment's Free Speech Clause, a ruling that could have an enormous impact the limits of free speech in trademark cases.

President Donald Trump has come under fire, politically, for not fully divesting himself from his personal business interests when he took office. Today, for the second time, he's hearing the same criticism, but legally.

Back in January, a bunch constitutional scholars, Supreme Court litigators, and former White House ethics lawyers sued Trump, claiming that payments made to Trump-owned businesses amounted to violations of the Constitution's Emoluments Clause. Earlier today, the District of Columbia and State of Maryland filed a similar suit. So what is the Emoluments Clause and is Trump violating it? You can see the full lawsuit below: