A South Carolina congressman is planning to try to remove MLB’s antitrust status following the league’s All-Star Game announcement.
MLB announced on Friday that it was moving the 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta. The move is intended to punish the state of Georgia, which recently signed SB202 into law (full text of the bill here). The “election integrity” bill is designed to improve the voting and election process following issues that were made evident during the 2020 election. There are pro-voting aspects of the bill, but activist groups have taken issue with other parts of the bill.
Jeff Duncan (R-SC), a U.S. House of Representatives member, said on Twitter that he asked his staff to begin working on legislation that would look into MLB’s antitrust status.
An overwhelming bipartisan majority of Americans support requiring an ID to vote, and any organization that abuses its power to oppose secure elections deserves increased scrutiny under the law.
— Rep. Jeff Duncan (@RepJeffDuncan) April 2, 2021
Other congressmen got involved.
U.S. House of Representatives member Chip Roy (R-TX) said he would co-sponsor Duncan’s bill:
I will co-sponsor this and aggressively push it. @mlb happy to have ID required to pick up tickets but not for voting. @aairwaves (American Airlines) & @Delta – you’re on notice too. https://t.co/6PUPrAyxPX
— Chip Roy (@chiproytx) April 2, 2021
U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) questioned why MLB still has antitrust immunity:
Why does @MLB still have antitrust immunity? It’s time for the federal government to stop granting special privileges to specific, favored corporations—especially those that punish their political opponents. https://t.co/k3GIZuGYHB
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) April 2, 2021
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a former U.S. presidential candidate, also was critical of MLB over the move:
Why are we still listening to these woke corporate hypocrites on taxes, regulations & anti-trust? https://t.co/GWToVhAZvW
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) April 2, 2021
MLB received exemption from the Sherman Antitrust Act following a Supreme Court ruling in 1922. The court was ruling in a case where the Baltimore team in the Federal League sued the National League (which later merged with the American League to form MLB). The Baltimore Federal Baseball Club alleged that the National League conspired with other Federal Baseball Club team owners to put the Federal League out of business. Other Federal League owners received sweet deals from the National League, but the Baltimore owners did not, leading to the lawsuit.
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in the National League’s favor, saying that baseball was a game managed by states and not a big business that involved federal interstate commerce. The subject has come up in other legal cases over the years, but the 1922 precedent has remained.