San Jose Takes MLB Antitrust Case to Supreme Court

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As anticipated, the San Jose City Council unanimously voted to appeal the antitrust case challenging MLB’s antitrust exemption.

The dispute arose when San Jose’s attempt to relocate the Oakland Athletics to the South Bay was halted by the MLB’s territorial restrictions.  In the lawsuit, the city argued that the territorial rule granting the San Francisco Giants club the right to block the A’s relocation as well as alleged stalling by an MLB relocation committee violated antitrust laws.

After the district court dismissed the suit, the Ninth Circuit also dismissed it on appeal in January finding that MLB was protected by the 92-year old exemption from antitrust law granted by the Supreme Court.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said,

“Litigation was our last recourse, and the City Council knew from the outset that success would likely require a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit the 1922 decision that created MLB’s exemption from antitrust laws.  Every other professional sport in America and every other American industry must abide by antitrust laws.  Only Major League Baseball enjoys this antiquated exemption.”

If the Supreme Court declines to hear the case, the Ninth Circuit’s decision would become final.

Shortly after the appeals court dismissed the case in January, then MLB Commissioner-Elect Rob Manfred commented, “It’s important that we prevailed in the litigation because the exemption has been very important to the way we’ve done business.”

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