Like Muslims pushing for sharia law in the U.S., the courts seem to want to have it both ways when it suits them, via Islam: Political or Religious? | Blog – American Freedom Law Center.Yesterday, AFLC filed a notice of appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in response to the Trademark Trial & Appeal Board’s (TTAB) affirmance of the denial of the “Stop Islamisation of America” or “SIOA” trademark application, which was sought by anti-sharia advocates Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer and their organization, the Freedom Defense Initiative (FDI). In a nutshell, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) rejected the application, ruling that the trademark disparaged Muslims and linked them to terrorism. (You can read the whole story here.)The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals is a highly-specialized federal court in Washington, D.C., that was established to hear, among others, patent/trademark appeals. At this point, it is difficult to determine how the Federal Circuit will treat this case. Generally, the TTAB, which is the last administrative appeal at the USPTO, rubber stamps the director, but in our case, the briefs and oral argument were so one-sided in our favor that there was hope for a favorable ruling. However, that did not happen, but it was no surprise: most judges are quite hostile when these types of cases are argued. Moreover, and perhaps surprisingly, the most hostile judges are typically Republican appointees. For example, in AFLC’s victories in the lower federal courts in New York and Detroit, the judges were liberal appointees, and they ruled on the side of granting First Amendment protection to our clients’ speech. In this case, given the law at work, it should be an easy victory for our clients. But, we shall wait and see.To explain further, in one case where AFLC had won in the trial court after a full evidentiary hearing at which the transit authority admitted during cross examination that our clients’ advertisement did not convey an impermissible “political” message, a three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit comprised of 2/3 George W. Bush appointees reversed, holding that the advertisement, “Fatwa on your head? Leaving Islam? Contact www.refugefromislam.com,” was not a permissible “religious” ad but, instead, was impermissibly “political” (the rules were meant to preclude political campaign ads from Detroit/Dearborn buses — not what we call in the law “political speech,” which of course is the most protected of all speech under the First Amendment) because “Fatwa” and sharia are political not religious matters. It was a remarkable and somewhat startling admission.So, in the Sixth Circuit, sharia is now political, and to the USPTO, it is religious. In sum, the federal courts are a laboratory of the studied application of incoherence where words carry no meaning but are used arbitrarily to protect the politically correct mantra that Muslims and Islam constitute a special class that stands above criticism that is otherwise protected speech under the First Amendment. In short, blasphemy laws are alive and well—we just don’t want to admit it.
Critics claim that Bumble Bee Ham is being insensitive to Muslim feelings and seeking to inflame Muslim sensibilities. Supporters swear they only wish to promote a new peaceful dialogue in Muslim/Pork relations.
There’s been an exchange of letters over the weekend between Newsweek’s and CNN’s Fareed Zakaria and the Anti-Defamation League (Hat Tip: Memeorandum and Memeorandum). In anger over the ADL’s position against the construction of a mosque at Ground Zero, Zakaria has decided to return the ADL Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize, which was bestowed on him by the ADL in 2005. Here’s Zakaria:
I was stunned at your decision to publicly side with those urging the relocation of the planned Islamic center in lower Manhattan. You are choosing to use your immense prestige to take a side that is utterly opposed to the animating purpose of your organization. Your own statements subsequently, asserting that we must honor the feelings of victims even if irrational or bigoted, made matters worse.
This is not the place to debate the press release or your statements. Many have done this and I have written about it in Newsweek and on my television show – both of which will be out over the weekend. The purpose of this letter is more straightforward. I cannot in good conscience hold onto the award or the honorarium that came with it and am returning both. I hope that it might add to the many voices that have urged you to reconsider and reverse your position on this issue. This decision will haunt the ADL for years if not decades to come. Whether or not the center is built, what is at stake here is the integrity of the ADL and its fidelity to its mission. Admitting an error is a small price to pay to regain your reputation.
And here’s the ADL’s Abraham Foxman in response:
I hope you have read our statement on the proposed Islamic Center at Ground Zero and, more importantly, understand our position. We did not oppose the right for an Islamic Center or a mosque to be built. What we did was to make an appeal based solely on the issues of location and sensitivity. If the stated goal was to advance reconciliation and understanding, we believe taking into consideration the feelings of many victims and their families, of first responders and many New Yorkers, who are not bigots but still feel the pain of 9/11, would go a long way to achieving that reconciliation.
ADL has and will continue to stand up for Muslims and others where they are targets of racism and bigotry, as we have done at the request of and on behalf of Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf.
I am holding on to your award and check in hope that you will come to see that ADL acted appropriately and you will want to reclaim them.
In 1919, writing for a unanimous Supreme Court in the case of Schenk v. United States, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote the following regarding the limitations on free speech under the United States constitution.
The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. […] The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.
Schenk was limited in the 1960’s in a case called Brandenburg v. Ohio, which limited the scope of banned speech to that which would be directed to and likely to incite imminent lawless action (e.g. a riot). That’s not the point. What Schenk set out was a standard of common sense. You don’t shout fire in a crowded theater unless there is one. You don’t allow pornography shops to open next door to an elementary school. And you don’t open a mosque on, or next to, the grounds of two buildings where 3,000 people were murdered in the name of Islam.
the porn theater next to a school analogy was the same one I came up with. Based on Bloomberg’s thinking it will be hard to throw out any pornographic venders out of Times Square in the future.
If the position of SIOA is a matter of opinion, I’d like to remind everyone in NYC that Columbia University was just given control of 125th and Riverside because of the opinion that it would improve the neighborhood even though the reason the neighborhood was blighted to begin was because the school had not done anything with much of the property that they owned there for decades because they were looking to manipulate the government through Eminent Domain. The same issue also was parallel when dealing with the Atlantic Yards… and guess what? The original World Trade Center was seized from private property through eminent domain laws. Obviously the government can seize a property based on the greater good for the people. There is precedent for a caring government to do the right thing, unfortunately caring is less important to Bloomberg then enabling an elitist community is.