GOP senators push to end MLB antitrust status

Republican Sens. Mike Lee (Utah) and Ted Cruz (Texas) have joined calls to end MLB’s antitrust exemption following its decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta.

MLB announced the move on Friday, saying it would relocate the game in protest of Georgia’s voting restrictions signed into law last week. The decision has sparked blowback from GOP lawmakers across the country.

GOP Rep. Jeff Duncan (S.C.) said earlier Friday that he had told his staff to start drafting legislation to remove MLB’s decades-old antitrust exemption “in light of @MLB’s stance to undermine election integrity laws.” 

“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,” he added.

Hours later, Lee retweeted Duncan’s post, adding, “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,” the Utah senator wrote. 

Cruz indicated his support for Lee’s statement, tweeting that his colleague was “EXACTLY right.”

“@SenMikeLee & I will be working hard to END MLB’s antitrust immunity,” Cruz wrote, adding the hashtag “#GowokeGobroke.” 

Cruz later Friday tweeted a link to MLB’s list of official corporate sponsors, which the Texas senator claimed “pressured to pull the All Star game out of Atlanta.”

“Do all of them oppose voter ID?” Cruz wrote. “Are all of them willing to be the woke enforcers of the corrupt Democratic Party? And do all hate the 75m who voted for Trump?” 

Baseball’s antitrust exemption dates back to a 1922 Supreme Court decision, and under the 1998 Curt Flood Act passed by Congress, MLB players maintain the same rights as other professional athletes under antitrust laws, but other aspects of the sport are exempt, including franchise relocation and broadcast negotiations. 

Other professional sport leagues, including the NFL and NBA, do not have this exemption. 

MLB earlier Friday announced its decision to pull the All-Star Game out of the Peach State amid mounting calls to boycott businesses and events in Georgia that failed to condemn the state’s newly enacted voting measures. The law requires voters to have a photo ID to submit an absentee ballot and limits the number of ballot drop box locations, among other provisions.

Democrats and voting rights activists have condemned the law, arguing it will disproportionately make it harder for voters of color to make their voices heard in elections. 

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred defended the league’s decision to move the game, writing in a statement that it is “the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport.”

“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” he added.

Tags All-Star Game antitrust Antitrust laws Atlanta Georgia Georgia voter law Jeff Duncan Mike Lee MLB MLB All-Star Game Rob Manfred Senate Ted Cruz
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