Senators Cruz, Hawley, and Lee Introduce Bill to End MLB’s Antitrust Immunity

AP Photo
AP Photo/Michael E. Keating

Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Josh Hawley (R-MO), and Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced legislation to end Major Leagues Baseball’s (MLB) special immunity from antitrust law Tuesday.

The legislation intends to expose MLB to legal risks and alter existing business partnerships, particularly concerning “minor league baseball, franchise relocation, intellectual property and several other topics central to upcoming negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement,” Sportico reported.

The termination of MLB’s antitrust immunity is expected to maintain the type of immunity they enjoy with TV deals which National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), and  National National Hockey League (NHL) also receive.

A notable article by the Boston Herald’s Editorial Board on April 6 demanded the termination of MLB antitrust exemption, writing, “The anti-trust exemption for Major League Baseball has been debated for years — it’s time to end the league’s special status. As its recent actions have shown, it’s not just a sport.”

MLB’s antitrust immunity emanates from a Supreme Court decision in 1922, ruling the MLB is a sport and not a business. The NFL, NBA, and NHL do not enjoy the same privilege.

Cruz said at the press conference what prompted the legislation “was Major League Baseball’s decision to pull the All-Star Game out of Atlanta, Georgia…. based on a pile of lies.” He continued, “It did so based on an assertion that legislation the Georgia legislature took up to protect voter integrity somehow disenfranchised Georgia voters.”

“The fact that Major League Baseball would get together and try to punish a state because the elected representatives of that state and the elected governor of that state settled on a law to preserve election integrity is unbelievable,” Hawley expressed.

Cruz also said there is not “any decent argument why baseball is itself different from any of those other sports or why Major League Baseball should enjoy exemptions not held by other corporations generally, regardless of whether they have anything to do with professional sports.”

The announcement of the legislation comes after MLB relocated their All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver in a reactionary move to protest the State of Georgia’s newly passed election integrity law, which limits the number and location of drop boxes, reforms voter ID requirements, and expands early voting access statewide while modernizing the state’s voter rolls.

It was reported shortly after MLB decided to relocate the game from Atlanta, a move costing the city as much as $190 million in revenue, MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred worried relocating the All-Star Game would spiral into a “political event.”

According to Breitbart News, Stacey Abrams, LeBron James, and Al Sharpton conspired with MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred about relocating the game from Atlanta in which the MLB Commissioner anxiously made the decision. Abrams later tweeted she was “disappointed” the game was moved in reaction to Manfred’s decision, yet her displeasure is believed to be “suspect.”

MLB’s ultimate judgment to move the game to Denver caused backlash from Republicans, who pointed to Denver’s far fewer black individuals and black-run businesses than Atlanta. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) tweeted black persons make up only 9.2 percent of Denver, whereas Atlanta is 51 percent black. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said the MLB moved a game from where “46% of all businesses are minority owned… to a city where only 23% of all businesses are minority owned.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) also showed his displeasure with MLB, declining to throw the first pitch at the Texas Rangers’ home opener. Abbott said in a statement, “Major League Baseball adopted what has turned out to be a false narrative about the election law reforms in Georgia, and, based on that false narrative, moved the MLB All-Star game from Atlanta.”

MLB Commissioner’s concern about relocation may have been confirmed when Breitbart News reported Denver’s field is “named after a founder of the Heritage Foundation, Joseph Coors, the former president of Coors Brewing Company, who died in 2003 after setting up a legal foundation that challenged part of the Voting Rights Act.”


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