Censorship in the Patent and Trademark Office

The Supreme Court has heard the oral arguments for Iancu v Brunetti, a case I wrote about a bit ago.  Hadley Arkes’ op-ed in The Wall Street Journal shed additional light on the matter, which centers on whether Iancu’s business can trademark the name of his business, Friends U Can’t Trust, with its acronym stand-in.

Certain words are fixed in the language with the moral functions of “commending” and “condemning,” and some of them have a special edge….

You bet.

The Attorney General and Immigration Judges

John Yoo, who was a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel, has reminded us of the authority of the AG vis-à-vis immigration judges.

He [the AG] has the power to overrule immigration judges. Immigration judges have been making mistakes….

Aside from the immigration judges’ error rate, it’s really quite clear that the AG can overrule them. Not only are immigration judges not Article III judges, they’re employees of the Department of Justice—they work for the AG. Beyond that, they’re not even judges; they’re Special Inquiry Officers.

Mores and the Patent and Trademark Office

The Supreme Court has taken up the case of Iancu v Brunetti and heard oral arguments Monday.  Erik Brunetti wanted a copyright on the label for a clothing line of his that he’d named FUCT, an acronym for Friends U Can’t Trust.  Iancu is Andrei Iancu, who is duel-hatted as Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  Wearing that second hat, Iancu and his fellow USPTO bureaucrats said they were scandalized and morally offended, and they denied Brunetti’s copyright application.  The Wall Street Journal, at the link, said

Blue about Blue Slips?

For a long time—nearly a century, according to Senator Dianne Feinstein (D, CA)—the Senate had a tradition (not a rule) that Senators from the home State of a judicial nominee had to approve that nominee—send forward a “blue slip” before that nominee could be considered, or even sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The administration of President Donald Trump has tended to disregard that tradition.  In fact, he’s sent seven—according to Feinstein, again—appellate court nominees to the Senate over “the objection of home-state Democrats” and—the horror—gotten them confirmed, including a number to the California-based 9th Circuit.

Religious Freedom

Germany doesn’t appear to have the same strong belief in it that Americans (or most of us, anyway) do.  The Federal Labor Court has objected to a Catholic clinic terminating a doctor because he violated Church teachings, specifically, he both divorced and then remarried.

The doctor insisted—successfully, it turns out—that he was fired for being Catholic; colleagues of different faiths could divorce and remarry without consequence.

Privacy in a Technological World

In a ruling rejecting an application for a search warrant, Magistrate Judge Kandis Westmore, operating in the Northern District of California, had this remark in particular.

Citizens do not contemplate waiving their civil rights when using new technology, and the Supreme Court has concluded that, to find otherwise, would leave individuals “at the mercy of advancing technology.”

Encouragingly, this remark also cited (via the quote in the remark above) a Supreme Court ruling, Carpenter v United States [citations omitted]:

A Magistrate Judge Gets One Right

Of course, the Magistrate Judge Kandis Westmore’s ruling can be overturned on appeal by a District judge in the Northern District of California in which she operates, or on appeal on the ruling’s way up the appellate chain.  Nevertheless, her ruling stands, for now.

In its essence Westmore ruled that, even with an otherwise valid search warrant, a person cannot be compelled to unlock a digital device like a cell phone with that person’s biometrics—a fingerprint, a face, or an iris, for example.

A Judge’s Error

The Trump administration had expanded rules allowing employers to opt out of being required to provide birth control coverage to their employees at no cost to the employees, so long as the opting out was convincingly based on religious or moral grounds.  Federal District Judge Haywood Gilliam of the Northern District of California has issued an injunction blocking enforcement of the expansion while an underlying lawsuit against the expansion is underway.

Ordinarily, blocking an enforcement while the underlying case proceeds is no big deal, but this one is just plain wrong.  Gilliam based his ruling in significant part on the premise that

Religious Tests for Federal Office

Here’s what our Constitution says about religious tests for Federal office, from Article IV [emphasis added]:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Despite this, the Progressive-Democratic Party’s Senators, on two separate occasions, challenged judicial nominees over their religious beliefs.

A US Appellate Court Thinks Americans Are Grindingly Stupid

Kellogg’s makes Cheez-Its, a cheesy, corny confection that’s attractive to lots of folks, especially at boring parties.  Some versions of this snack are marketed as “Whole Grain” or “Made With Whole Grain,” and the text on the packaging makes plain that this means 5 to 8 grams of whole grain for each 29-gram serving along with the primary ingredient being “enriched flour.”

This is too confusing for three women to bear, so they sued.  One of the women went so far as to claim she was injured by all of this, yet, were the packaging only changed, she would continue to purchase the products in the future (where are the feminists over this feigned stupidity?).  There started out some sanity in this idiocy: