Lavi Ben Dor is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania concentrating in finance and marketing.
The First Amendment to the Constitution clearly lays out the United States governmental commitment to unrestricted speech: “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech.”  As a result, the government faces significant limits in attempting to restrict the speech of private citizens. But what happens when it is the government itself that is speaking?
The idea of government speech recently faced scrutiny in the Supreme Court case Matal v. Tam.  The Court addressed a trademark application made by Simon Tam for the name of his band, “The Slants,” which had been denied by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). The PTO rejected the request under the Lanham Act, which includes a provision banning trademarks that “disparage . . . or bring . . . into contemp[t] or disrepute” any people, arguing that the term “slant” has a history of being used as a slur against Asian Americans. [2, 3]