The Supreme Court decided Thursday to hear a case that could affect the Washington Redskins’ name controversy, NBC News reports.
The court will hear an appeal from the Obama administration on a lower court ruling that refused trademark protection for an Asian-American Oregon rock band named The Slants.
Federal law bars trademarks on racial slurs, and the justices will rule on whether the previous ruling violates the band’s free speech rights. “Slants” was deemed offensive to people of Asian descent, as some feel “slant eye” is a racial slur.
The Redskins challenged the same law separately in the past on the basis of free speech, despite the offensive meaning and history behind the term “Redskin” and its use in reference to Native Americans.
In 2014, a Patent and Trademark Office tribunal canceled the team’s six trademarks after a request by Native American activists. The Supreme Court did not act on the case.
The Supreme Court’s term begins on Monday and ends next June.