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Anti-trust Exemption Newsbeat

Wednesday, April 07, 2021


MLB’s All-Star Game move has attracted praise in some parts, but derision in others.

“In light of @MLB’s stance to undermine election integrity laws,” Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-South Carolina) tweeted hours after MLB’s announcement, “I have instructed my staff to begin drafting legislation to remove Major League Baseball’s federal antitrust exception.” Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tweeted similar sentiments. “Why does @MLB still have antitrust immunity?” Lee asked. “It’s time for the federal government to stop granting special privileges to specific, favored corporations—especially those that punish their political opponents.”

Sportico has learned from Rep. Duncan’s office that formal introduction of the bill, titled the “Teddy Roosevelt Fair Competition and Public Trust Act of 2021,” is expected early next week. The bill will expressly dictate that baseball qualifies as interstate commerce and is therefore subject to federal antitrust law. The bill is named in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt, who was hailed a “trust buster” in the early 20th century for his aggressive use of antitrust law to spur economic competition. Rep. Duncan’s office relays that the bill has already gained 18 co-sponsors and a companion Senate bill, led by Senators Cruz, Lee, Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), is in the works.

MLB’s antitrust exemption empowers the league and its clubs to conspire in ways that might otherwise run afoul of antitrust law. The current version of the exemption allows caps on minor league players’ salaries (also known as wage fixing), denial of clubs opportunities to move to larger markets, and pooling of intellectual property rights, all without worry of antitrust litigation.

MLB has long guarded its exemption, which originated in the 1922 U.S. Supreme Court case Federal Baseball Club v. National League. Writing for the Court, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes held that baseball games are purely matters of the states where they are played and thus outside the scope of federal antitrust law. Application of such law requires disputes involving interstate commercial activity.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 07, 2021 at 03:41 PM | 32 comment(s)
  Beats: anti-trust exemption



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