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Supreme Court rules California man can't trademark 'Trump too small'

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Supreme Court rules California man can't trademark 'Trump too small'
News

News

Supreme Court rules California man can't trademark 'Trump too small'

2024-06-14 00:09 Last Updated At:00:10

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled against a man who wants to trademark the suggestive phrase “Trump too small.”

The justices upheld the government’s decision to deny a trademark to Steve Elster, a California man seeking exclusive use of the phrase on T-shirts and potentially other merchandise. It is one of several cases at the court relating to former President Donald Trump. Last week, the court laid out standards for when public officials can be sued for blocking critics from their social media accounts. These cases were also related to Trump.

The Justice Department supported President Joe Biden’s predecessor and presumptive opponent in the 2024 election. Government officials said the phrase “Trump too small” could still be used, just not trademarked because Trump had not consented to its use. Indeed, “Trump too small” T-shirts can already be purchased online.

Elster’s lawyers had argued that the decision violated his free speech rights, and a federal appeals court agreed.

At arguments, Chief Justice John Roberts said that if Elster were to win, people would race to trademark “Trump too this, Trump too that.”

Twice in the past six years, the justices have struck down provisions of federal law denying trademarks seen as scandalous or immoral in one case and disparaging in another.

Elster's case dealt with another measure calling for a trademark request to be refused if it involves a name, portrait or signature “identifying a particular living individual” unless the person has given “written consent.”

The phrase at the heart of the case is a reference to an exchange Trump had during the 2016 presidential campaign with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who was then also running for the Republican presidential nomination.

Rubio began the verbal jousting when he told supporters at a rally that Trump was always calling him “little Marco” but that Trump — who says he is 6 feet and 3 inches tall — has disproportionately small hands. “Have you seen his hands? ... And you know what they say about men with small hands,” Rubio said. “You can’t trust them.”

Trump then brought up the comment at a televised debate on March 3, 2016.

“Look at those hands. Are they small hands? And he referred to my hands — if they’re small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee you,” he said.

Supreme Court rules California man can't trademark 'Trump too small'

Supreme Court rules California man can't trademark 'Trump too small'

The Supreme Court building is seen on Thursday, June 13, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

The Supreme Court building is seen on Thursday, June 13, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Supreme Court rules California man can't trademark 'Trump too small'

Supreme Court rules California man can't trademark 'Trump too small'

WASHINGTON (AP) — The director of the Secret Service says the assassination attempt of former President Donald Trump was the agency's “most significant operational failure” in decades.

Director Kimberly Cheatle told lawmakers Monday during a congressional hearing: “On July 13, we failed." Cheatle says she takes full responsibility for the agency's missteps related to the attack at Trump’s Pennsylvania rally earlier this month.

Cheatle was testifying Monday before a congressional committee as calls mount for her to resign over security failures at a rally where a 20-year-old gunman attempted to assassinate the Republican former president.

The House Oversight Committee heard Cheatle's first appearance before lawmakers since the July 13 Pennsylvania rally shooting that left one spectator dead. Trump was wounded in the ear and two other attendees were injured after Thomas Matthew Crooks climbed atop the roof of a nearby building and opened fire.

Lawmakers have been expressing anger over how the gunman could get so close to the Republican presidential nominee when he was supposed to be carefully guarded. The Secret Service has acknowledged it denied some requests by Trump's campaign for increased security at his events in the years before the assassination attempt.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has called what happened a “failure” while several lawmakers have called on Cheatle to resign or for President Joe Biden to fire her. The Secret Service has said Cheatle does not intend to step down. So far, she retains the support of Biden, a Democrat, and Mayorkas.

Before the shooting, local law enforcement had noticed Crooks pacing around the edges of the rally, peering into the lens of a rangefinder toward the rooftops behind the stage where the president later stood, officials have told The Associated Press. An image of Crooks was circulated by officers stationed outside the security perimeter.

Witnesses later saw him climbing up the side of a squat manufacturing building that was within 135 meters (157 yards) from the stage. He then set up his AR-style rifle and lay on the rooftop, a detonator in his pocket to set off crude explosive devices that were stashed in his car parked nearby.

The attack on Trump was the most serious attempt to assassinate a president or presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan was shot in 1981. It was the latest in a series of security lapses by the agency that has drawn investigations and public scrutiny over the years.

Authorities have been hunting for clues into what motivated Crooks, but so far have not found any ideological bent that could help explain his actions. Investigators who searched his phone found photos of Trump, Biden and other senior government officials, and also found that he had looked up the dates for the Democratic National Conventional as well as Trump’s appearances. He also searched for information about major depressive order.

U.S. Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle is sworn in to testify before the House Oversight and Accountability Committee about the attempted assassination of former President Donald Trump at a campaign event in Pennsylvania that also saw one rallygoer killed and two others seriously wounded, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, July 22, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

U.S. Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle is sworn in to testify before the House Oversight and Accountability Committee about the attempted assassination of former President Donald Trump at a campaign event in Pennsylvania that also saw one rallygoer killed and two others seriously wounded, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, July 22, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

FILE - Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret Service agents as he is helped off the stage at a campaign rally in Butler, Pa., July 13, 2024. Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle and the Secret Service are under intense scrutiny following the assassination attempt on Trump. People across the political spectrum are wondering how a gunman could get so close to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee when he was supposed to be carefully guarded. Cheatle has talked about how the Secret Service has a "zero fail mission." (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

FILE - Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret Service agents as he is helped off the stage at a campaign rally in Butler, Pa., July 13, 2024. Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle and the Secret Service are under intense scrutiny following the assassination attempt on Trump. People across the political spectrum are wondering how a gunman could get so close to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee when he was supposed to be carefully guarded. Cheatle has talked about how the Secret Service has a "zero fail mission." (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

Secret Service chief questioned over security failures before Trump assassination attempt

Secret Service chief questioned over security failures before Trump assassination attempt

FILE - Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle attends a news conference, June 4, 2024, in Chicago. Cheatle and the Secret Service are under intense scrutiny following an assassination attempt on former President Donald Trump during a rally Saturday, July 13, in Pennsylvania. He was injured and people across the political spectrum are wondering how a gunman could get so close to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee when he was supposed to be carefully guarded. Cheatle has talked about how the Secret Service has a “zero fail mission.” (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

FILE - Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle attends a news conference, June 4, 2024, in Chicago. Cheatle and the Secret Service are under intense scrutiny following an assassination attempt on former President Donald Trump during a rally Saturday, July 13, in Pennsylvania. He was injured and people across the political spectrum are wondering how a gunman could get so close to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee when he was supposed to be carefully guarded. Cheatle has talked about how the Secret Service has a “zero fail mission.” (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

Secret Service chief questioned over security failures before Trump assassination attempt

Secret Service chief questioned over security failures before Trump assassination attempt

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