Friday, December 3, 2010

Judge Sykes' Opinion - Wilmette, Haifan Baha'i

Again, Judge Sykes' Opinion did not sidestep "questions about whether a religious organization can trademark its name or icons." In fact, it directly answers the question:

p 14-15: "Considered in light of these First Amendment limitations on the court’s authority, certain aspects of the 1966 injunction are troubling. The decree declares that “there is only one Baha’i Faith,” that Shoghi Effendi was its last Guardian and none has come since, and the National Spiritual Assembly was its representative and “highest authority” in the United States and was “entitled to exclusive use of the marks and symbols of the Faith,” including the exclusive use of the word “Bahá’í.” Declarations of this sort push the boundaries of the court’s authority under Kedroff and Presbyterian Church. In church property disputes (trademark suits obviously qualify), the First Amendment limits the sphere in which civil courts may operate. When a district judge takes sides in a religious schism, purports to decide matters of spiritual succession, and excludes dissenters from using the name, symbols, and marks of the faith (as distinct from the name and marks of a church), the First Amendment line appears to have been crossed."

The Court clearly states, as a matter of incontestable historical fact, that the Wilmette nsa merely constitutes one of many interpretations of the Baha'i Faith.

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