Bobby Jindal Picks His Passion: Lieutenant Governors Should File Frivolous Lawsuits (Ostensibly) On Behalf of States
LOUISIANA SUING MOVEON FOR TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT: In a move that has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the liberal group’s billboard and TV ad criticize Gov. Bobby Jindal’s decision to turn down the expansion of Medicaid, leaving tens of thousands of Louisianans without health insurance, the state says its lawsuit is just about the fact that the ads riff on their “Louisiana: Pick Your Passion” slogan, and that threatens to dilute the state’s brand. [Boldface mine.]
— Paul Waldman (sitting in for Greg Sargent), Morning Plum, Washington Post, today*
One of the few tacks of the Conservative Movement at its current stage that actually amuses me (well, you know what I mean) is that after a three-decades-long, intense, obsessive, stunningly successful campaign–in the U.S. Supreme Court, in state Supreme Courts, and through federal and state legislation–to end access to court by ordinary people to file lawsuits against corporations or local, state and federal-government entities, employees and officials, this crowd now routinely uses civil litigation in federal court to challenge the constitutionality of this or that law or public policy, or to distort beyond recognition certain federal statutes so as to flip their meaning.
For decades, these people riffed loudly and unremittingly on frivolous lawsuits, the definition of “frivolous” being defined, of course, as any civil lawsuit that does not attempt to advance a rightwing policy cause; beginning in, I guess, the early ’90s, that’s been the definition, anyway. But most people don’t know that that that what “frivolous” means in the mantra “frivolous lawsuits.”**
So, yes, for someone like me, who’s (all too) familiar with this mighty curious trajectory by the Conservative Movement, the Waldman post this morning was downright hilarious.
It’s especially funny for me. I’ve begun working on a book to be titled “Why Law Is Such an Inside Game.” Most modern nonfiction books that argue a viewpoint have a catchy or cutesy one- or two-word title (often a pun) and then a subtitle like ““Why Law Is Such an Inside Game.” It’s apparently considered obligatory. But not for me.
Me? I want my point to be in the title itself.
Anyway … I just thought I’d share the inside joke with y’all. The article Waldman links to is on the New Orleans Times-Picayune site. It’s titled “Louisiana sues MoveOn.org over Bobby Jindal billboard,” by Lauren McGaughy.
And really, folks, it’s pretty funny.
*This post has been corrected to reflect that Paul Waldman, not Greg Sargent, wrote that blog post. I also amended the title of this post to indicate that the lawsuit was filed by the lieutenant governor, not by Jindal. The lieutenant governor will be a candidate for governor next year.
**Paragraph edited for clarity, after initial posting. (3/18) Not that it matters, since this post isn’t exactly breaking “hits” records. Oh, well.
Wouldn’t they have to show that MoveOn is using to their own financial benefit for this to stick? Other wise, it’s a libel issue and that’s I thought was settled some what in these situations. But hey, our supreme have said it’s ok for news to lie.
Intellectual property law is, suffice it to say, not my bailiwick, but I’m pretty sure that, no, while that is one ground, it’s not the only ground for a valid trademark/trade-name infringement claim. Another ground would be what they’re claiming here: dilution of the trademark or trade name, or improper and possibly harmful association of the trademark or trade name with something unaffiliated with the actual brand.
But I do know quite a bit about First Amendment speech jurisprudence. And I’m really pretty damn sure that that billboard’s use of the slogan for political criticism is comfortably within First Amendment speech protections.
Like, really, really sure.