Redskins name comes under fire from federal judge, Attorney General Holder

A Washington Redskins helmet sits on the field. (AP file photo)

WASHINGTON (WJLA) -- The backlash by federal authorities against the name Redskins continues to grow amid contentions by some Native Americans that the name of Washington's NFL team constitutes an ethnic slur.

U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte in Maryland and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder are the latest government figures to take a stand against the name.

They've now joined the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, President Obama, and 50 U.S. senators including Majority Leader Harry Reid who have come out publicly calling for a name change.

Messitte, who is presiding in the so-called 'bounty" lawsuit against the Redskins brought by former New York Giant linebacker Barrett Green, has told attorneys in the case not to use the team's name in his courtroom - and has now gone so far as to issue an order indicating his court will not recognize the name Redskins.

"Pro Football's team is popularly known as the Washington 'Redskins,' but the Court will refrain from using the team name unless reference is made to a direct quote where the name appears. Pro Football's team will be referred to hereafter simply as 'the Washington Team," he wrote.

"(It) is what it is," Messitte, a D.C. native, told the Washington Post when reached for comment Monday.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder went even further, telling ABC News flat out: "The name ought to be changed. It's an offensive name."

"I'm going to speak very personally now," Holder said when asked about the name controversy. "The Redskins, that organization is a great one. It's a team with a storied history that has huge amounts of support in Washington, D.C., and in the 21st century they could increase their fan base, increase their level of support, if they did something that from my perspective that is so obviously right."

Redskins owner Dan Snyder has been unmoved to date by the political pressure being brought about as a result of lobbying efforts led by the Oneida Indian Nation. He's also fighting a recent decision by the Patent Office to strip his team's 'Redskins' trademark because it found the name to be racially insensitive.