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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Feds' war on Mongols takes alarming turn


Mongols MC


. - President Obama is often credited with being a constitutional law professor. Actually, he was a “senior lecturer” at the University of Chicago Law School, but one might question which constitution he lectured about, given his administration’s departures from the U.S. Constitution.

The latest is a request by the Department of Justice that a federal judge outlaw a word — a clear violation of the First Amendment. If it prevails, the government would then set about seizing any property upon which the word is found, a clear violation of the due process clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth amendments.

The government says it has a good purpose in mind. It wants to shut down a violent motorcycle club. But it should never matter why government wants to stretch or even violate the Constitution. The more we allow it to be weakened, the more our rights will be taken away.

In 2008, the department issued more than 100 arrest warrants in four states for members of the Mongols motorcycle club, which is headquartered in California. As part of a plea deal, the club’s president “forfeited” rights to the Mongol trademark to the department. The registered trademark consists of an image of Genghis Khan wearing sunglasses and riding a motorcycle. The trademark does not contain the word “Mongols.”

Because the government then owned the trademark, a federal judge ruled that the Mongols “must surrender all products, clothing, vehicles, motorcycles, books, posters, merchandise, stationery, or other materials bearing the Mongols trademark.”

Another federal judge partially lifted that injunction a few years later.

Now the department has asked another judge to make it illegal for Mongols members to not only wear the trademarked patch, but to even display the word “Mongols.” The Mongols responded with a First Amendment defense, arguing in court papers that the “government’s sole purpose ... is to crush the Mongols Nation Motorcycle Club by seizing the intellectual rights to the ‘Rider’ and ‘Mongol’ marks and thereby quash the club and its members’ rights to freedom of expression and association.”

It may be that the Mongols are essentially a criminal enterprise. It may be that other motorcycle clubs associated with violence, such as the two involved in the recent Texas shootings — the Bandidos and the Cossacks — also are involved in illegal activities.

If so, government should do everything it can to shut them down — everything it legally can.

But government has no constitutional authority to in effect, seize a single word and outlaw it. Nobody “owns” the word “Mongols,” which describes an Asian ethnic group.

If government can ban a single word and confiscate anything the word is displayed on, what’s next?