Are GOP Senators right to propose revoking MLB's antitrust status?


Fact Box

  • Major League Baseball (MLB) was founded in 1903 with the combination of the National League and the American League. 
  • Georgia’s voting law, SB 202, requires photo ID for absentee voting, adjusts rules around ballot drops, extends hours in most polling locations from 5 to 7 PM, and prohibits anyone from soliciting/bribing voters in line with food and/or drink. However, poll officers are explicitly permitted to supply water to voters waiting in line. 
  • On Friday, April 2nd, MLB pulled the summer’s July 13th game from Atlanta Truist Park, GA, in response to SB 202. MLB announced on April 5th they’d settled on relocating to Colorado’s Coors Field, a state currently holding more stringent voter ID laws than Georgia. 
  • GOP Senators Jeff Duncan, Mike Lee, and Ted Cruz called for the end of MLB’s “antitrust exemption” in retaliation. In 1922, the Supreme Court had ruled that players had the same rights as professional athletes, but that they were excused from franchise relocation and broadcast negotiations. 
  • A March 2021 Rasmussen Report survey reports 75% of all US voters support voter ID laws, including 69% and 82% of Black and minority voters. 51% of Democrats view voter ID laws as discriminatory while 67% of unaffiliated voters and 79% of Republicans do not.

Bill (Yes)

GOP Senators are justified in proposing to revoke MLB's antitrust status. No other sports league enjoys antitrust exemptions like the MLB, so repealing the exemptions will put professional sports leagues on equal footing. Oddly, the justification for granting MLB's special status was based on an entirely faulty premise (that the league was not engaged in 'interstate commerce'). Obviously, teams must travel to play their opponents, so interstate commerce is a key part of baseball economics.

The incident that precipitated the GOP senators' action was MLB's decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta in protest over Georgia's recent legislation to ensure election integrity. That may sound like an odd thing for the MLB to take issue with, but the law has been wrongly characterized as disenfranchising minority voters. Most Americans are in favor of voter I.D. (which the law codifies). Nonetheless, the MLB wants no part of any controversy that could result in it being called racist by association.

Rather than clarify the issue to its players, coaches, and owners, the MLB has decided to capitulate to the woke mob searching for anything with a whiff of racial division. It's sad that Georgia baseball fans and local businesses will have to suffer due to the MLB's transparent virtue-signaling—as an example, the 2020 All-Star Game generated $89 million. By proposing to repeal the MLB's legal protections, the GOP Senators have seized on something that might get the MLB's attention, or at the very least, expose its naked hypocrisy by fomenting racial strife where it ought not to exist.

Andrew (No)

Just as the NBA, NFL, and other sports organizations have made their own statements and demonstrations regarding the state of race relations in America, Major League Baseball has identified a controversial piece of legislation and has chosen to take their business elsewhere because of it. Ironically, the supposed party of small government and personal choice is attempting to punish this organization for its beliefs. How can the same party defend the likes of Kim Davis and the Masterpiece Bakery for their political beliefs but insist on going after MLB for its own?

GOP senators seem surprised that an organization that produced civil rights icons Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron would take issue with the voter suppression tactics included in Georgia's recent voting bill. What isn't surprising is that the familiar cadre of progress-opposing GOP senators have come out with this knee-jerk attempt at punishment. Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee predictably lead the charge to harass organizations attempting to stand up for racial justice. A tweet from Senator Lee illustrates his own limited thinking; 'It's time for the federal government to stop granting special privileges to…those that punish their political opponents.' If MLB disagrees with the Georgia legislature, it is perfectly within its rights to move events elsewhere, leaving Senator Lee in the hypocritical position of using his government power to punish political opponents. Sadly, this is typical GOP behavior. Rather than stand up for their legislation and its supposed merits, these senators have chosen the cowardly route of abusing their power on an issue so unimportant that few people had even heard of it prior to this latest row.

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