GOP Senators Aim to End MLB's Antitrust Exemption The Major League Baseball logo atop the visiting dugout before a game at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)
By Brian Freeman | Tuesday, 13 April 2021 11:44 AM
Three Republican senators are taking aim at Major League Baseball with legislation designed to end the entity's immunity from antitrust laws after MLB's controversial decision to move the 2021 All-Star Game from Georgia due to liberal activists' complaints about a new state voting law.
Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., are spearheading the move to end MLB's special antitrust exemption, and are set to hold a press conference later Tuesday to further detail their plans. A media advisory announcing the event specifically tied the impending legislation to MLB's high-profile decision in early April to move the Midsummer Classic out of the Atlanta Braves' Truist Park. The game has since been relocated to Colorado.
Soon after MLB announced its decision earlier this month, Cruz tweeted that "Sen. Mike Lee and I will be working hard to END MLB’s antitrust immunity."
In a post of his own, Lee asked: "Why does MLB 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."
The proposed bill comes at a time of political realignment, as some Republicans openly display a hostility towards corporations in general, an area in which the GOP has historically displayed a strong pro-business leaning, according to Forbes.
"Monopolies and liberty are not compatible,: Hawley said earlier this week on "Tucker Carlson Tonight." "No corporation should be so big or so powerful that it can control the political process, that it can override the will of the voters."
MLB has been besieged with criticism after Commissioner Rob Manfred made the decision to move the All-Star Game to Denver's Coors Field. Team owners reportedly were "blindsided" by the move, which allegedly came after Manfred spoke with Democrat activist Stacey Abrams.
Abrams publicly has said she's against the decision to boycott Atlanta.
Georgia's new voting law has been criticized by left-leaning activists and politicians as overly restrictive and even derided as "Jim Crow 2.0." The legislation's backers, who are mostly Republicans, say it actually expands voting rights and does a better job of expanding ballot access than current voting laws in many "blue" states.
The antitrust exemption for baseball dates back to a 1922 Supreme Court decision, and it is the only one of its kind for a sports league. Eliminating this special status would expose MLB to antitrust litigation and weaken its power to sideline competition.