The Slants: Denouement
Victory has a hundred fathers https://t.co/G9Z7QOVH8l
— Likelihood ®© Blog (@likely2confuse) June 19, 2017
Now let’s name some of them. Because while I have many thoughts and learned many things since I got involved with the controversy over THE SLANTS six years ago, they can wait. The giving of credit cannot, because it is almost tomorrow as I write this, and we all know about tomorrow’s news.
Thank you, Simon Tam. What did Simon do besides present us with an opportunity to provide him with free legal services? He trusted us. He pulled back from the level of intense online engagement that he was so good at when we told him we did not think it was going to be helpful. He did not abandon us when certain Supreme Court Bar snobs tried to dislodge him from us after it suddenly became clear (yes) that we would win. He paid for out-of-pocket expenses he agreed to pay for. He kept us on our toes. He gave us the chance to be heroes. Thank you, Simon. Thank you, too, Spencer Trowbridge, for your unsung hard work in “round one.” It made a difference.
Thank you, Archer. Soon after I arrived at Archer I fell into the capable hands of John Connell, right when I needed a real First Amendment lawyer to get us past “preserving the issue” to really understanding the constitutional issues at stake in our appeal to the Federal Circuit. He tutored me patiently even as I felt his toes curl at the prospect of my oral advocacy on these matters before the Circuit sitting on en banc. Thank you, John, for winning it for us at the Supreme Court. Thank you to our other partners, not least those charged with managing our firm and who invited me to join the firm knowing that I was carting the long-shot The Slants with me; for sending me around the world to try and make all that free work pay; and for much more.
Thank you, UCLA Free Speech Clinic, namely Stuart Banner and Eugene Volokh. Stuart, thank you for taking the laboring oar on the Supreme Court briefing. You were a pleasure to work with and when we were done, I was a better appellate lawyer.
Thank you, Lisa Blatt. Yes, you “threw shade” at me and my firm for a brief moment when it seemed to your team that this was what had to be done to zealously represent the considerable interests of your client, the Redskins. But before that, and after that, and strangely enough even during that, no one was more helpful to us with respect to the dark arts of advocacy before the United States Supreme Court.
Thank you, Joel MacMull, preserver of The Issue. We would not have any of this if you had not prepared so much of the first Federal Circuit brief and insisted, over my tired cynicism, that the Constitution not be forgotten on our appeal. Thank you for following me to Archer and being my right hand so well and for so long that working without you is not only inconceivable to me but, when attempted, typically comes off as sadly comical. You allow me always to make it look easy. It is not easy.
Thank you, ACLU. You drove me up the wall sometimes. But your intense help in preparing us for the Federal Circuit, your massive showing when amicus submissions were filed and the credibility those submissions lent to our cause were invaluable. Thanks of course to all the amici.
Thank you, friends of the working trademark bar. Most of you did not agree with what we were setting out to do in this case. I know that. But all of you, including some who were the most deeply invested in an outcome contrary to the one we sought, listened, debated and helped us hone our thinking on the issues.
Among the professoriate, so many of you, friend or foe, were gracious, helpfully challenging and engaging. We became friends even in disagreement.
In a different but special way, thanks are due, too, to certain other lights of the academy, “brilliant” tenured jerks whose obnoxious public interjections and intellectually vacant contortions allowed me to enjoy winning even more for knowing how unhappy this result makes them and how manifestly the court ignored their pretentious pronuciamentos. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Thank you, Marc Randazza, for the constant kicks in the pants, the shouts out, the inspiration, the intellection, the living example of a refusal to give up or give in to the ankle-biters.
Thank you to everyone who set up, participated in, funded or helped prepare us for moot court sessions. I am not sure you want to or should be identified individually, at least today.
Thank you to the tiny band of bloggers and commentators outside trademark law who understood why this case was bigger than trademarks or even, believe it or not, bigger than pro football, and said so.
Beyond this I won’t go. Not getting cosmic; not getting personal; not spiritual. These are, however, the people who must be thanked today, before the moment fades. Thank you.
UPDATE: The conservative boycott of this case continues: Biggest free speech / big government / civil liberties case of the year — if I may — completely ignored by the Federalist Society in the programming for its annual convention.