News & Insights

Quick Guide: America’s Pastime Unites AGs

A case stemming from action by Major League Baseball that left 40 minor league teams out in the cold has energized AGs on both sides of the aisle. Stephen Cobb and Keturah Taylor discuss the action by state AGs and the signals it sends.

(00:23): Stephen introduces himself and his colleague and cohost, Keturah Taylor. This week’s story pits AGs against pro sports, following on prior AG actions in pro sports, including an investigation into claims of workplace discrimination and a hostile work environment in the NFL investigations into individual NFL franchises and investigations into some NCAA practices and universities.

(02:59): Keturah describes the most recent AG action in the sports world—an announcement by CT AG William Tong that he led a coalition of 18 attorneys general in weighing in on a case that is up for review by SCOTUS: Tri-City ValleyCats and Oneonta Athletic Corporation vs. the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball. The case stemmed from a 2020 agreement among MLB teams to cut affiliated minor league teams from 160 affiliates down to 120, leaving 40 minor league teams without the ability to compete for talent and financial support. The minor league teams brought an antitrust suit against MLB, claiming it was in violation of the Sherman Act.  Both lower courts hearing the case found themselves bound by an antiquated antitrust exemption for professional baseball that immunizes the MLB against such claims.

(04:42): Stephen raises the significance of this AG coalition being bipartisan.

(05:30): Keturah opines that states and communities wanting to have successful sports leagues and the attendant economic benefits is not a particularly partisan issue, and that having both Republican and Democratic AGs weigh in may encourage the court to review the case. She also notes that two sitting Justices have themselves been critical of the baseball antitrust exemption in the past.

(07:25): Keturah further makes the point that AGs are concerned about their ability as state antitrust enforcers to fulfill that role, and view the antitrust exemption as infringing on their sovereignty. They argue that state antitrust enforcement should not be preempted unless there’s a clear intent of Congress to do so, but there has been no indication of such Congressional intent.

(8:32): Stephen asks Keturah whether she thinks this indicates more action and involvement from state AGs at the Supreme Court level and she replies that she’s sure AGs will continue to be extremely active. Recent examples include a coalition of 17 AGs filing amicus briefs in a tax rule case being heard by the Court this term on one side, with a separate coalition of 17 AGs led by West Virginia filing an amicus brief in support of the other parties.

(9:33): Stephen wraps up by agreeing and suggesting that state AGs will continue advancing the ball in appellate cases and making their voices heard in the Supreme Court.

To listen to the full podcast, click here. To listen to a particular section, open the recording and use the time stamps provided above to navigate to the desired part.

To read more about the news story on which this podcast is based, click here.