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U.S. constitutional law’s applications to sport

This is an excerpt from Case Studies in Sport Law 3rd Edition epub by Andrew T. Pittman,John O. Spengler & Sarah J. Young.

All citizens enjoy four broad rights relevant to sports: personal freedom, civil rights, due process, and privacy. The first broad right, personal freedom, includes freedom of movement, freedom of speech, freedom of association, and freedom of religious beliefs. Under the right to freedom of speech, citizens may disagree with decisions of others or the government, petition for change, or express displeasure, as found in Matal v. Tam. Another freedom is that of states to govern as they deem appropriate. In Murphy v. NCAA, the constitutional freedom was whether the U.S. federal government has the right to control state lawmaking.

Matal v. Tam
137 U.S. 1744 (2017)

This case concerns a dance-rock band’s application for federal trademark registration of the band’s name, “The Slants.” “Slants” is a derogatory term for persons of Asian descent, and members of the band are Asian-Americans. But the band members believe that by taking that slur as the name of their group, they will help to “reclaim” the term and drain its denigrating force.

The Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) denied the application based on a provision of federal law prohibiting the registration of trademarks that may disparage . . . or bring . . . into contemp[t] or disrepute any persons, living or dead. We now hold that this provision violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. It offends a bedrock First Amendment principle: Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend.

Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association
38 U.S. 1461 (2018)

Gambling came to the British American colonies with its first settlers. The money from gambling was used to improve dozens of universities and hundreds of secondary schools during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Americans have never been of one mind about gambling, and attitudes have swung back and forth. By the end of the 19th century, gambling was largely banned throughout the country, but beginning in the 1920s and 1930s, laws prohibiting gambling were gradually loosened.

[This case involving Philip D. Murphy, governor of New Jersey, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA),] is illustrative. In 1897, New Jersey adopted a constitutional amendment that barred all gambling in the State. But during the Depression, the State permitted parimutuel betting on horse races as a way of increasing state revenue, and in 1953, churches and other nonprofit organizations were allowed to host bingo games. In 1970, New Jersey became the third State to run a state lottery, and within five years, 10 other States followed suit.

More Excerpts From Case Studies in Sport Law 3rd Edition epub