US DOJ questions MLB antitrust waiver in MiLB case

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed major league baseball antitrust lawsuits for the second time in less than a year in a lawsuit filed by four minor league teams that lost affiliation with the major leagues in the 2020 minor league baseball reorganization. Argued for waiver concerns.

While not explicitly asking the court to terminate the immunity — the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which is currently hearing the case, does not have the authority to terminate the immunity — the State Department has decided to uphold the filed multiple lawsuits criticizing and questioning the Baseball antitrust waivers in briefs filed Monday.

“Major League Baseball is also big business,” the synopsis reads, after alluding to baseball as a “national pastime.”

“The average Major League Baseball team is worth over $2 billion, up 9% from 2021. Major League teams do more than just win championships, they attract fans and generate revenue. We are also competing for

DOJ also raised the possibility that previous court decisions may have already limited the scope of the waiver. “Some courts have concluded that federal baseball’s exemption was limited to the term of his player contract (the reserve clause), which MLB largely waived in 1975, effectively voiding the exemption. ,” said the brief.

“Furthermore, as the United States has argued in district court, other courts have held that only activities ‘core to the baseball business’ are eligible for the federal baseball exemption.”

Federal baseball is the popular name for the 1922 Supreme Court ruling that baseball was not a true interstate business.

In summary, the department has not taken a position on whether the exemption applies to minor league reorganizations, as four teams have already argued, but the court should extend federal baseball’s exemption. He said he wanted to reconfirm that he was not.

“It’s their compromise,” said Jim Quinn, an attorney for the four minor league clubs. “They’re saying don’t let it get any worse.”

It is unlikely that the exemption will be extended to other sports. The current lawsuit was sparked by a 2021 Supreme Court decision that ruled that the NCAA’s restrictions on marketing rights for college players violated antitrust laws.

In that ruling, the judge wrote: …but the court refused to extend federal baseball reasoning to other sports leagues, even acknowledging criticism of the decision as “unrealistic,” “inconsistent,” and “abnormal.” bottom. ”

Quinn, a four-team attorney, said his case was designed to be submitted to the Supreme Court, the only court that can overturn immunity, given that the NCAA lawsuit mentions baseball. ing.

Major League Baseball’s response is expected on February 27th.

The lawsuit was filed by the Salem Kaiser Volcanos, Norwich Sea Unicorns, Staten Island Yankees and Tricity Valleycats.

A federal district court previously dismissed the lawsuit on grounds of immunity, but noted that four teams had shown enough that Major League Baseball violates antitrust laws.

(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

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