News of an amusing appellate decision, from that leading source of legal news, ESPN:
A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that a filly can’t be named “Sally Hemings” after Thomas Jefferson’s most famous slave and reputed lover.
The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled that the Jockey Club can legally bar horse owner Garrett Redmond from naming his 4-year-old horse after Hemings.
We can understand the Sixth Circuit’s reluctance to allow anyone to “ride Sally Hemings.” Thomas Jefferson already tried that, and his historical reputation will never be the same.
But the court’s decision was grounded in law as well as good taste:
Judge Alice Batchelder, writing for the three-judge panel, said Redmond has other options that may be approved by the Jockey Club, which forbids horse owners from using names of famous or notorious people without special permission.
No “famous or notorious” people? So much for Redmond’s fallback option, “Wanda Sykes.”
Did being denied this name of choice have an adverse effect on the horse’s performance? Quite possibly:
The horse, now known as “Awaiting Justice,” ran at Churchill Downs on July 1 and at Ellis Park in Henderson on July 25. She did not finish in the top 3 in either race.
A little more discussion, after the jump.
[Judge Batchelder] quoted Shakespeare’s “What’s in a name?” and cited the band America in rejecting Redmond’s appeal.
“In short, because he has spent three years insisting he has a constitutional right to name his horse ‘Sally Hemings’ and that no other name will do, Mr. Redmond now finds himself, like the songster of the 70s, having ‘been through the desert on a horse with no name,”‘ Batchelder wrote.
“If he really wants to race or breed this horse in Kentucky, Mr. Redmond will have to come up with a name that complies with the Jockey Club’s rules,” Batchelder wrote. “A quick look at the Jockey Club’s Registry confirms that ‘Horse With No Name’ is no longer available.”
How about “Alice Batchelder”? Unless and until she gets nominated to the SCOTUS, she doesn’t qualify as “famous or notorious,” does she?
Court: Man can’t name filly ‘Sally Hemings’ [ESPN.com]
Redmond v. The Jockey Club (PDF) [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit]