Holmes Norton Would Strip NFL Exemption Over 'Redskins'

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia has introduced a bill that would prohibit the NFL from receiving an antitrust exemption so long as it allows the Washington team to continue to use the name.

She cited the July 2014 decision by a federal judge to uphold the Patent Office decision to deny federal protection to the Redskins trademark on the grounds it was disparaging.

“The National Football League, a multi-billion dollar industry, and the Washington football team should not be benefitting financially from federal antitrust exemptions while they continue to promote a disparaging moniker that has been found by legal authorities to be a racial slur,” Norton said. 

Last year, Norton tried to push a name change through a bill that would have denied tax-exempt status to any pro sports league that allowed a member to benefit from the name Redskins. The NFL relinquished that tax exempt status on its own earlier this year, which Norton attributes to pressure from that proposed bill.

The new bill would "make all antitrust laws applicable to professional sports leagues that use, or promote or allow members teams or franchises to use, the term 'Redskins.'”

Norton said the league needs to get on the right side of history. Ironically, Norton can't vote on her own bill since the D.C. delegate (she does not get to be called a representative) to Congress does not get a vote on the House floor.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.