With San Jose at Bat, Federal Baseball is in the Bottom of the Ninth

Baseball and antitrust are influential cultural and economic American traditions. They famously intersected in a series of cases whereby the Supreme Court created and reinforced a peculiar exemption for baseball from federal antitrust law. Since its creation in 1922, baseball’s exemption has been widely criticized as both misguided and unwarranted. The rationale behind baseball’s exemption is, in essence, that baseball is somehow on a higher moral ground, impervious to the law. As such, the exemption is used as an example for the Supreme Court’s conscious willingness to serve interest groups.

The Court will soon have the opportunity to reconsider baseball’s exemption. In 2013, the City of San José, California filed a complaint against MLB and some of its subsidiaries in the District Court of the Northern District of California. In its complaint, San José alleges, among other things, that MLB has violated federal and state antitrust laws by not allowing the Oakland A’s major league baseball club to move to San José. City of San José v. Office of the Commissioner of Baseball is likely to reach the Supreme Court. San José will be a test on the Court—the world will be watching as the Court is given the opportunity to correct almost a century of error and finally level the playing field between baseball and all other professional sports. This is an opportunity the Court must seize.