AG Henry Joins Push for Supreme Court Review of Antitrust Law Exemption that Permitted Major League Baseball to Trim Minor League Teams

October 25, 2023 | Topic: Consumers

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Michelle Henry joined a bipartisan coalition of 17 Attorneys General urging the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a challenge to the baseball antitrust exemption, which the coalition believes unfairly eliminated the Williamsport Crosscutters and the State College Spikes as Major League Baseball-affiliated minor league teams.

An existing, century-old U.S. Supreme Court exception exempts Major League Baseball (MLB) from compliance with state and federal antitrust laws. That allowed MLB, in 2020, to cut 40 minor league team affiliates of big-league teams.

Minor league teams in Williamsport and State College were among the teams that lost MLB support and the ability to compete for Minor League ballplayers. The case, Tri-City Valleycats, Inc. and Oneonta Athletic Corporation v. The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, argues that MLB’s cuts restricted competition and would have been prohibited under antitrust laws.

“In any other business, these actions would be considered illegal, so we feel obligated to close a legal loophole that gives unprecedented powers to Major League Baseball,” Attorney General Henry said. “Sporting events and venues are community entertainment hubs as well as economic engines, so many Pennsylvanians felt the impact of these wide-ranging cuts.”

The amicus brief argues that the Supreme Court should reverse the antiquated exemption. The brief focuses on the mistake the Supreme Court made by blocking enforcement of state antitrust laws, even though Congress never intended to preempt those state laws.

The amicus brief also highlights the powerful economic and cultural role that minor league baseball plays in towns across the country.

The eight minor league teams in Pennsylvania — including the Crosscutters and Spikes — attract thousands of spectators every year to games and events.

Attorney General Henry was joined by the Attorneys General of Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia in filing the brief, which was led by Connecticut Attorney General William Tong.

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