The Slants The-Band-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named-thumbnail

The Slants are coming to Tucson

Later this week, the University of Arizona College of Law hosts what has to be the best law-related but not so damned lawylerly event of the year when it welcomes The Slants, all-Asian American band—which is all up in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office’s business.

The event is on Thursday. It begins with a noon talk (room 164) about their current trademark case pending before the Supreme Court. And then, because law school needs a relief valve, they’ll perform a concert at 8 pm. Both events are free and open to the public.

OK, so what is all this about?

“The Slants are known as the first all-Asian American dance-rock band in the world. The band is well known in legal circles due to their battle with the United States Trademark Office with In Re Tam, which is now before the Supreme Court of the United States and known as Lee v. Tam.”

All-Asian American band The Slants

All-Asian American band The Slants

“The friction with the USPTO comes from the band’s name—a reference to their ethnicity—which is the subject of a protracted legal debate. After the band’s request to trademark its name was denied, they took the issue to court. In December 2015, a federal appeals court overturned a previous ruling that upheld the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s rejection of the band’s application by striking down part of a law that allowed the government to reject trademarks it deemed offensive or disparaging to others. The majority opinion stated, in part, that ‘[w]hatever our personal feelings about the mark at issue here, or other disparaging marks, the First Amendment forbids government regulators to deny registration because they find speech likely to offend others.’ The band’s frontman, Simon Tam, explained that while the First Amendment should protect the band’s right to use the name regardless of their reasons, they had chosen the name in order ‘to undercut slurs about Asian-Americans that band members heard in childhood, not to promote them.’”

But the USPTO takes its faux disparagement seriously, so now we await a SCOTUS opinion.

If you enjoy more detail that doesn’t come from a law review, here is a helpful article from Chief Justice John Robert’ favorite publication, Rolling Stone.

Meantime, I know you’re curious about the type of music they write and perform. I’ve listened and enjoyed it, but I leave it to the band and the crowdsourced genius at Wikipedia to describe their thang:

“The Slants describe themselves as ‘Chinatown Dance Rock’ and are often compared to electro rock bands such as The Faint or early 80’s synthpop groups such as Depeche Mode, The Cure, Duran Duran, The Cult, and Joy Division. Critics also compare The Slants with modern artists such as The Killers, VNV Nation, and Mindless Self-Indulgence.”

Gotta love me a little synthpop.

The Slants UA flier University of Arizona Law School

Whether you’re an electro-fan or not, the band is here.

You might enjoy this brief video tracking their trip to Washington DC for Supreme Court oral argument regarding their trademark registration. At 1:36, you’ll see the tiniest of concerts they staged on the SCOTUS steps.

And be sure to watch this trailer for The Band Who Must Not Be Named.

You can see more of their work on their own Youtube page.

If you go to the Tucson concert—(please go!)—would a photo or two kill you? Maybe a brief video? A signed T-shirt? Whatever.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor greets University of Arizona Professor Rebecca Tsosie, Jan. 23, 2017, ASU Gammage Auditorium, at the annual John Frank Lecture.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor greets University of Arizona Professor Rebecca Tsosie, Jan. 23, 2017, ASU Gammage Auditorium, at the annual John Frank Lecture.

This week, I had the privilege to attend the annual John Frank Lecture at ASU. This year’s esteemed speaker was Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who engaged in a dialogue with Hon. Mary Schroeder of the Ninth Circuit (and its former Chief Judge). I’m happy to share excellent reporting of the event (below) by attorney Ashley Kasarjian, of Snell & Wilmer. She’s also a former Chair of the Arizona Attorney Editorial Board, so she’s excellent in multiple ways!

If this blog post were a movie, the opening scene would be the end of the evening—roaring applause and a standing ovation with Justice Sotomayor shaking hands, hugging kids at the end of the aisle, and walking through the crowd at Gammage Auditorium. Now, rewind back… Last night, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor […]

via Justice Sotomayor Visits Arizona State University — Employment and the Law: A legal blog from the perspective of an employment attorney

Keep reading here.

Cecilia Marshall, 88, the widow of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, still lives in Falls Church, Va., where they moved three decades ago. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Cecilia Marshall, 88, the widow of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, still lives in Falls Church, Va., where they moved three decades ago. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

What could be better on a Change of Venue Friday than a love story? Plus a little law, of course.

A story in the Washington Post describes the courtship and marriage of Cissy Marshall and her famous husband, Justice Thurgood Marshall. When Cecilia Suyat married Thurgood, she encountered resistance even within her own Filipino family. How ironic and wholly American is their story, therefore—as her husband went on to be the celebrated trial attorney who won the Brown v. Board of Education case.

Thurgood Marshall, who led the NAACP’s legal team, and his wife, Cecilia, leave the Supreme Court after the high court ordered the Little Rock School Board to proceed with integration at Central High School. (UPI)

Thurgood Marshall, who led the NAACP’s legal team, and his wife, Cecilia, leave the Supreme Court after the high court ordered the Little Rock School Board to proceed with integration at Central High School. (UPI)

And here is a short video of Cissy related to the story of their interracial marriage.

When you’re done reading the Post piece, be sure to read our book review of Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America, by Wil Haygood. The review is by Judge George Anagnost.

Have a terrific—and love-is-love-filled—weekend.

Showdown Thurgood Marshall book cover by Wil Haygood

 

Earlier this month, women lawyers and law students filed an amicus brief that told the story of their own abortions and the value that reproductive rights played in their careers.

Earlier this month, women lawyers and law students filed an amicus brief that told the story of their own abortions and the value that reproductive rights played in their careers.

The legal battle over reproductive rights continues to be much in the news. And the heat got turned up this week when Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit over an antiabortion ‘sting’ video-maker. As the Washington Post reports:

“Planned Parenthood filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against the maker of a series of undercover videos released last year that sought to prove that the women’s health organization illegally profits by selling tissue from aborted fetuses.”

You can read about the allegations here.

But that reminded me, in an in-case-you-missed-it spirit, that a remarkable brief was filed at the U.S. Supreme Court in early January. As reported in the National Law Journal:

“More than 100 female lawyers joined in a brief to tell the U.S. Supreme Court about their own abortion experiences and why their reproductive freedom was pivotal to their personal and professional lives.”

“The extraordinary brief, filed last week, was signed by former judges, law professors, law firm partners, public interest lawyers and law clerks, though none who clerked for the high court itself.”

A Texas case may be "the most important Supreme Court battle over abortion in a generation."

A Texas case may be “the most important Supreme Court battle over abortion in a generation.”

The case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, comes out of Texas, which enacted restrictions on abortion clinics “that could result in shuttering many facilities. [Abortion advocates] claim the regulations pose an ‘undue burden’ on women’s rights.”

Read the whole story (and the brief) here.

Wherever you stand on the question of abortion, this advocacy and the attempt to persuade the Justices are noteworthy. As the story says, attorney Janice Mac Avoy is an attorney who volunteered to tell her own story and to be a lead party on the brief. She pointed out that the drafting in the brief “responds to ‘storytelling briefs,’ often filed on the other side, that relate the stories of women who have regretted their abortions.”

Legal history is filled with examples of parties adopting the strategies of opponents. Time will tell whether this amicus brief, and the many others filed, are ultimately persuasive. “Set for argument on March 2, the case is viewed as the most important abortion rights case in nearly a decade.”

Have a terrific—and persuasive—weekend.

Opponents and supporters of Planned Parenthood demonstrate Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Philadelphia. Anti-abortion activists are calling for an end to government funding for the nonprofit reproductive services organization. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Opponents and supporters of Planned Parenthood demonstrate Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Philadelphia. Anti-abortion activists are calling for an end to government funding for the nonprofit reproductive services organization. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Notable Supreme Court cases to be discussed at Rehnquist Center Constitution Day Program on September 21.

Notable Supreme Court cases to be discussed at Rehnquist Center Constitution Day Program on September 21.

Whenever I mention Constitution Day, some legal wag is bound to contact me to remind, “But Tim, every day is Constitution Day!”

To that I say, huzzah for your enthusiasm. But accuracy compels me to remind in return: Constitution Day falls in September every year, your eager patriotism notwithstanding.

For the truly eager (and patriotic), I recommend to you the Constitution Day program planned at the Rehnquist Center at the University of Arizona College of Law. It will be held next Monday, September 21, from 1:00 to 4:30 pm.

Registration (free!) is here.

Last year, I was able to attend in person. (No such luck this year.) Here’s my story from that compelling panel discussion.

As organizers describe next Monday’s event:

The panel discussion features legal experts who will review some of the major cases decided by the United States Supreme Court during the 2014 term.

Panelists include:

The moderator will once again be the law school’s Professor David Marcus.

Hosted by the William H. Rehnquist Center in the UA James E. Rogers College of Law, the event will feature a panel of legal experts reviewing notable cases decided by the United States Supreme Court during the 2014 Term.

What will they discuss? Here are some of the seminal decisions they’ll cover:

  • King v. Burwell, in which the Supreme Court upheld a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that offers tax credits to individuals who purchase health insurance through federal exchanges.
  • Horne v. Department of Agriculture, a takings case involving the Fifth Amendment and the government’s responsibility to pay just compensation when it takes personal property.
  • Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the court held that same-sex couples’ right to marry is guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment.
  • Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, in which the court found that Arizona voters have the right to transfer redistricting power from the state legislature to an independent commission.

As always, if you attend and take any photos or decide you’d like to write a brief summary of the highlights, I’d be happy to chart about a guest blog post. Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Tucson attorney Stephen Kimble outside the Supreme Court, which considered his legal battle with Marvel Entertainment over royalties to a toy he patented.

Tucson attorney Stephen Kimble outside the Supreme Court, which considered his legal battle with Marvel Entertainment over royalties to a toy he patented.

Who has not dreamed of being a spider person? Spider-Man, specifically.

If you have, then your dream may have included depressing your middle finger into your palm, and so projecting web material onto your nemesis.

Stephen Kimble sculpture award in May 2006 Arizona Attorney

Stephen Kimble sculpture award in May 2006 Arizona Attorney

Sound familiar? Then you may want to thank attorney Stephen Kimble.

On Wednesday, the UA Law School features Kimble, an alum, as it kicks off its series called “Contemporary Developments in Law.” Kimble is also a previous winner in the Arizona Attorney Creative Arts Competition.

Here’s why Kimble’s the first speaker:

“Mr. Kimble, a lawyer and artist, is the inventor of the toy that Marvel Entertainment, through Hasbro, marketed as the ‘Web Blaster.’ The toy ‘makes it possible for a player to act like a spider person by shooting webs from the palm of his or her hand.’”

Stephen Kimble Web-Blaster patent

Stephen Kimble Web-Blaster patent

The Web Blaster sounds pretty cool, right? Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to sway the U.S. Supreme Court, where Kimble was a petitioner in Kimble v. Marvel Entertainment, 135 S. Ct. 2401 (2015).

“In Kimble, the Supreme Court declined an invitation to overturn a 1964 precedent, known as the Brulotte rule. Under the Brulotte rule, a patent royalty agreement cannot extend beyond the expiration date of the patent. The rule has significant implications in many industries, though its legal and economic premises were abandoned long ago. The Court decided to use Kimble as an opportunity to clarify its stare decisis jurisprudence. It held that a ‘superspecial justification’ may be needed to overrule statutory stare decisis and that wrong precedent does not offer such a justification.”

In other words, he did not prevail. You can read more about his case here and here.

For those who want more detail, here’s more case description:

“Marvel Entertainment used Kimble’s idea and successfully marketed it, through Hasbro, as the ‘Web Blaster’ (still available in stores). Mr. Kimble fought in courts against Marvel and won. Marvel was required to pay Kimble royalties: 3% on its sales of the Web Blaster.

“Under a 1964 precedent, known as the Brulotte rule, a patent royalty agreement cannot extend beyond the expiration date of the patent. Kimble and Marvel were unaware of the rule when they settled their original dispute. Later, Marvel sought to stop paying royalties using the Brulotte rule. Kimble challenged the rule. In Kimble v. Marvel Entertainment, the Supreme Court chose not to overturn the Brulotte rule. Instead, it issued an opinion about its commitment to statutory stare decisis.”

This pilot event is co-organized by the Arizona Law Review and with the Business Law Program, and will focus on Kimble v. Marvel Entertainment, 135 S. Ct. 2401 (2015). The petitioner, Stephen Kimble (UA Law ’83), will describe the events that led to the case and its implications.

  • What: Kimble v. Marvel Entertainment: A Conversation With Stephen Kimble
  • When: Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, 12:00-1:15 p.m.
  • Where: The University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law at the Faculty Lounge. Lunch will be served.

RSVP to Nstanley@email.arizona.edu.

Meantime, you can still buy a Web-Blaster today. Not that it’ll do Stephen Kimble much good.

web-blaster spiderman Stephen Kimble

A campaign to invite the Justices of the Supreme Court to same-sex weddings has an underlying mission.

A campaign to invite the Justices of the Supreme Court to same-sex weddings has an underlying mission.

How high profile is the pending Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage? Pretty major. Maybe even big enough to increase the mail reaching the Court.

I’m sure the Justices regularly receive quite a bit of mail—which they cannot answer, for obvious reasons. But now that mail may include wedding save-the-dates.

A movement spearheaded by actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson (of Modern Family TV fame) aims to inundate the Justices with save-the-date wedding announcements—for same-sex couples.

Given his partnership with the website Funny or Die, there are bound to be a few funny elements to the initiative. Here’s how one news story on it opens:

“With the Supreme Court nearing a decision on marriage equality, Funny or Die has collaborated with Jesse Tyler Ferguson to encourage same-sex couples to send Supreme Court justices wedding save-the-date announcements—a reminder of the human lives its ruling will impact.”

Read the complete story here.

Supreme Save the Date with Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Adding to the humor, Ferguson has taped a video in which he plays various Justices, each of whom is baffled by the onslaught of invitations they are receiving. Here it is:

Whatever your beliefs on how the Court should rule, I’m hoping you enjoy the video. Perhaps it’s similar to a past video that portrayed the Justices as puppies. I wrote about it here, but I’ve included the video again below: