The Justice Department has asked a federal appeals court to narrowly consider the antitrust exemption for Major League Baseball.

MLB lowered its minimum guaranteed minor league affiliation contract from 160 to 120 in September 2020, taking over minor league operations from the National Baseball League Association, which it had been in charge of since 1901.

The parent company of the Staten Island Yankees, Tri-City Valley Cats, Salem Kaiser Volcanos and Norwich Sea Unicorns will sue MLB in December 2021 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, alleging Sherman anti-competition over a “horizontal agreement between competitors.” claimed to have violated trust laws. He artificially cuts and caps production in the market for his MiLB team, which belongs to an MLB club. ”

The case was dismissed in October by a judge citing an antitrust immunity created by a 1922 U.S. Supreme Court decision involving the Federation. The team then asked the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to refer the case to the Supreme Court.

“The court does not have to settle the exact contours of the immunity,” the Justice Department said Monday in a brief to the Second Circuit filed by Assistant Attorney General Jonathan S. Cantor and several other attorneys. writing. “Thus, the United States has not taken a position on whether the exemption applies here. I am submitting this simple letter to reconfirm that there is. ”

After the lawsuit was filed, MLB moved to dismiss it, citing the sport’s antitrust waivers, alleging lack of standing, and claiming there were no antitrust violations.

U.S. District Court Judge Andrew L. Carter ruled on October 26 that the minor league team was valid and “admitted facts sufficient to cause a real adverse effect on competition in the identified market.” made a verdict. However, he dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds of antitrust immunity.

“Plaintiffs believe the Supreme Court is poised to vacate immunity like a boxer waiting for his opponent to fire a left hook after throwing a lethargic jab,” Kerr said. ​Tar wrote. “It’s possible. But the immunity will stand until the Supreme Court or Congress takes action. It will protect MLB from plaintiff lawsuits.”

Supreme Court grants antitrust immunity to baseball in Federal League case when Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote that baseball is an exhibition exempt from antitrust laws, not interstate commerce The Supreme Court, in a 1953 case involving New York Yankees farmer George Toulson and the 1972 Kurt Flood decision, reaffirmed this ruling, stating that any changes should be made by Congress. rice field.

A 1998 law applied MLB to antitrust laws that affect the employment of major league players at the major league level.

“Of course, this court must apply the prevailing precedent, even if it is wrong,” the minor league team wrote in a filing filed with the Second Circuit on Jan. 9. But the Court should, if it sees fit, send this case to the Supreme Court with a message attached.Enough is enough.”


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