In a submitting on Wednesday, the Department of Justice requested a federal court docket to restrict the scope of Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption to “conduct that is central to the offering of professional baseball exhibitions.”
Calling the century-old exemption an aberration — no such exemption exists for different United States-based sports activities leagues — the submitting mentioned the Supreme Court ruling that created the exemption was primarily based on a “repudiated” interpretation of the Constitution.
The antitrust exemption, which protects M.L.B.’s approach of doing enterprise, has been challenged prior to now — Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, amongst others, has known as for its removing — however it has stood up to all earlier authorized challenges.
Wednesday’s feedback got here in a submitting known as a “statement of interest,” which permits the federal government to weigh in on ongoing authorized instances the place it isn’t a plaintiff or the defendant. In one other latest assertion of curiosity filed in a District of Columbia court docket, the Justice Department had urged a decide to rethink his dismissal of an antitrust lawsuit in opposition to Amazon.
In this occasion, the submitting was associated to a swimsuit by which three former minor league groups affiliated with main league golf equipment, together with the Staten Island Yankees, have sued M.L.B. accusing the league of antitrust violations when their groups, together with 40 others, have been eradicated in a latest consolidation of Minor League Baseball.
M.L.B. has requested for the swimsuit to be dismissed, citing, partially, the antitrust exemption. The Justice Department took no formal place on the league’s request for a dismissal in its Wednesday submitting within the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. But it did ask the court docket to “define the exemption narrowly.”
While the submitting is related to M.L.B. within the quick time period as a result of of the way it performs into the continuing lawsuit, the potential for a removing of the exemption primarily based on varied authorized challenges may have far bigger repercussions in phrases of how groups conduct their enterprise and the assorted freedoms afforded to gamers.
Wednesday’s submitting was signed by Jonathan Kanter, the top of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, who together with Lina Khan, the chair of the Federal Trade Commission, is a component of a gaggle of progressives making an attempt to advance reforms to antitrust legislation. For many years, they argue, courts have utilized the legislation in a approach that favors huge firms. Both regulators have been appointed final yr by President Biden, who additionally signed an govt order in July 2021 meant to spur competitors throughout the financial system.
David McCabe contributed reporting.