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Today was interesting in that a convicted sex offender, of all people,  by the name of Lester Packingham might have caused Deric Lostutter to have a win that might strip away the bulk of the restrictions imposed against him regarding his use of the internet after he is released two years (or less) from now. 

As reported in this article: http://www.scotusblog.com/2017/06/opinion-analysis-court-invalidates-ban-social-media-sex-offenders/

The sex offender was prohibited to use the internet for any reason, period  as cited under North Carolina statutes:

Quoting from the article:  “In an opinion that was joined in full by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, Justice Anthony Kennedy began by outlining what he described as a “fundamental principle of the First Amendment”: that everyone should “have access to places where they can speak and listen, and then, after reflection, speak and listen once more.” And even if once it may have been hard to determine which places are “the most important” “for the exchange of views,” Kennedy concluded, it isn’t hard now. Instead, he reasoned, it is “clear” that the Internet and, in particular, social media provide such opportunities, with “three times the population of North America” now using Facebook. Emphasizing that Packingham’s case “is one of the first this Court has taken to address the relationship between the First Amendment and the modern Internet,”

Now I have to admit that I am not an expert in constitutional law, but it is my OPINION that this ruling might have some effect on Lostutter’s restrictions and we might see him attempt to reduce his restrictions to the internet by citing this decision in his appeal.

I find it ironic that a sex offender who was convicted of raping a minor might just help a self proclaimed anti rape advocate who mounted a campaign against the defendants convicted of the rape of a minor and who were themselves listed as sex offenders.

Amy Howe, Opinion analysis: Court invalidates ban on social media for sex offenders, SCOTUSblog (Jun. 19, 2017, 1:52 PM), http://www.scotusblog.com/2017/06/opinion-analysis-court-invalidates-ban-social-media-sex-offenders/

Packingham v. North Carolina

All is not rosy for Mr. Lostutter as another decision by the high court may invalidate his civil lawsuit. 

The second high court decision had to do with, of all things, “offensive trademarks” being denied by the US Trademark office. 

There was this Asian ( I find this one a bit ironic) who was the leader of a band named The Slants. He decided to file a Trademark application. The application was denied because it was deemed “hate or offensive speech” in the same manner as the Detroit Redskins have been criticized for choosing that name for their Football team.

In the decision that was handed down today, the high court ruled that the Trademark office violated the band’s right of free speech.

Symposium: The Constitution prohibits government’s “happy-talk” requirement for trademark registration

The article starts out outlining why this case found it’s way to the high court:

“Simon Shiao Tam is the leader and bass player of the Portland, Oregon-based dance rock band, The Slants. Tam, an Asian-American, formed his band in 2006 and recruited other Asian-Americans to join in order to provide an interesting and entertaining platform for discussing discrimination against Asian-Americans. In 2011, Tam sought to register The Slants as a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. But the government refused to register the mark, on the ground that The Slants disparages “persons of Asian descent.”

Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act states that trademarks that “disparage” persons, living or dead, may be denied registration with the federal government. After the government rejected registration of The Slants, Tam appealed to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. The appeal board acknowledged that Tam was not attempting to disparage persons of Asian descent, and was wresting “ownership” of the term from those with negative intentions. But because many Asian-Americans find the band’s name objectionable regardless of intent, the board affirmed the government’s denial of registration. Tam then sought judicial review of the denial as a violation of the First Amendment”

Further on in the article concentration of Judge Alito: “Today, in an opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, the Supreme Court held that the disparagement clause violates the First Amendment. All eight participating justices agreed that trademarks are private, not government, speech, and that the disparagement clause discriminates based on viewpoint. Because Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan agreed that the disparagement clause constitutes viewpoint discrimination that cannot withstand rigorous constitutional scrutiny, they found it unnecessary to consider additional constitutional arguments by the parties”

Now how is this a loss for Deric Lostutter and a win for the defendants in his civil lawsuit?

The answer lies in a website known as http://dericlostutter.org/blog/ 

which is a blog that has been taken Deric to task for the conduct he has engaged in for the past several years.

Deric has filed a civil lawsuit against three defendants, one who has subsequently been dropped from the lawsuit, for several reasons one of which was the use of his name to create the website and the blog.

To some, the blog and other alleged actions by the defendants, could be considered hate speech. Correct or not, however, the ruling by the high court cites that such hate speech is considered freedom speech and therefore Deric’s civil case would be weakened considerably.

It is the opinion of a number of people and a few legal experts that Deric’s case has no merit and this ruling could enforce that opinion and be another reason for the Federal court to throw it out.

The coming months should prove interesting as everyone starts to cite these rulings to defend their arguments for both their right to free speech and to Trademark or Copyright what was up until restricted because of being hate or offensive speech.

Stay tuned

MURT