GREENBELT, Md. (AP) — New developments in the fight over the Washington Redskins name. A federal judge in Maryland has banned the name from being spoken in his courtroom.
Mary Bubala explains this comes as the team fights to get its trademark protection back.
Federal Judge Peter Messite made his position clear in a court documents. He writes, “the court will refrain from using the team name unless reference is made to a direct quote where the name appears. Pro football’s team will be referred to hereafter simply as the Washington team.”
In the courtroom, Messitte was more blunt. According to a transcript, he told lawyers, “We’re going to call them the Washington team here in this court. Have a local rule that tell us about the way words are used. No need to get into a political issue with you on that. For now, that’s what we’ll call them.”
George Washington University Law Professor John Banzhaf says the judge’s decision brings weight to the movement to change the name.
“The very fact that he singled this word out, not Atlanta Braves, or the Vikings, or the Fighting Irish, as a slur, a racial slur, says the ‘r’ word is different,” said Banzhaf.
The team is appealing a ruling by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that found the nickname disparaging.
In March, team owner Dan Snyder launched a foundation to support Native Americans, funding more than 40 projects across the country. Snyder has vowed not to change the name saying an “overwhelming majority” of Native Americans do not find it offensive.
“We’re not an issue. The real issues are real life issues, real life needs and I think it’s time that people focus on the reality,” said Snyder.
A spokesman says the team has no comment about the judges ban, and 50 U.S. senators have sent a letter to the NFL commissioner urging them to pressure a name change.
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