November 16, 2009 / 4:12 PM / 10 years ago

Supreme Court won't hear Redskins name case

Washington Redskins' Fred Davis (86) fights to break free from Cincinnati Bengals' Brandon Johnson during the first half of their NFL game Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, December 14, 2008. REUTERS/John Sommers II

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court said on Monday that it rejected an appeal by six American Indians in their long-running legal challenge of the Washington Redskins’ name, which they find racially offensive.

The justices declined to review a U.S. appeals court ruling that held the plaintiffs had waited too long to challenge six of the National Football League team’s trademarks at issue in the case.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court, saying it was important for the nation’s high court to decide the merits of the case of whether the Redskins name was a derogatory term for American Indians.

The appeal was supported by more than 30 law professors, 13 psychology professors who are experts on stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination and by the Social Justice Advocacy Group, a coalition of non-profit and religious organizations and socially responsible investment entities.

Attorneys for the team, one of the most storied NFL franchises, urged the Supreme Court to reject the appeal. They said the appeals court ruling was correct and that the intervention by the justices was not required.

The Redskins name was first adopted in 1933, when the team was based in Boston, to honor its head coach, an American Indian, its attorneys said. The team moved to Washington in 1937.

The case began in 1992 with a petition by the American Indians to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the Redskins trademarks under a law which bars trademarks that disparage persons or bring them into contempt or disrepute.

A federal judge in 2003 and then in 2008 ruled in favor of the team. The appeals court in May upheld the judge’s last ruling.

The Supreme Court refused to hear with appeal without any comment.

Editing by Paul Simao

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