In January of this year, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the antitrust case that pitted San Jose against Major League Baseball. That dismissal came after a federal trial judge dismissed the case in 2013. That case is now heading to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Both dismissals that have been handed down were based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that was handed down in 1922 and subsequently confirmed by rulings in 1953 and 1972. Because of those, the federal judge and the appeals court said they were bound by those rulings. Since only Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court can change the precedent, the city is now appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.
At the heart of the lawsuit is the allegation from San Jose that MLB blocked and delayed a move for the now Oakland A’s that would have sent them to San Jose. San Jose says that MLB’s actions violated the antitrust laws. The issue that has come into play is that professional baseball was granted an exemption from those antitrust laws back in 1922 by the U.S. Supreme Court.
In the petition to the nation’s highest court, San Jose has asked that the exemption granted to professional baseball be abolished. The city also asked that if the exemption isn’t abolished, the scope of the exemption be clarified by the court. As it stands, the petition claims that the exemption is being misapplied in a manner that is more broad than originally intended.
The U.S. Supreme Court will have to decide whether to hear the case or not. If the case is heard, an attorney for the city says they are “extremely optimistic” that baseball would be subject to the same antitrust laws as other professional sports.
Source: The San Francisco Examiner, “San Jose appeals MLB antitrust exemption to U.S. Supreme Court,” April. 16, 2015