A bipartisan coalition of 17 state attorneys general has filed an amicus brief in a case challenging the historic antitrust exemption given to Major League Baseball filed by two minor league baseball franchises that lost their affiliations with MLB in 2020.
The case involves the Tri-City ValleyCats and the Norwich Sea Unicorns, two of 40 minor league teams that lost their affiliations as part of a 2020 restructuring by MLB that cut the number of affiliated minor league teams by 25 percent all told.
In a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court last month, the teams argued MLB’s antitrust protection “has metastasized into a sweeping immunity that permits MLB to engage in brazenly anticompetitive behavior.”
Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, a Republican, joined the bipartisan group of AGs in the amicus brief, noting that the 2020 restructuring by MLB impacted teams in Bristol, Danville and Pulaski.
“I urge the Supreme Court to protect minor league baseball teams here in Virginia, and throughout the nation,” Miyares said in a statement on Monday. “Baseball is the national pastime, and the Court should reverse the antiquated decision that allows the MLB to eliminate minor league clubs, punish their fans, and disappoint communities that love their local teams.”
The brief asks the Supreme Court to revisit decisions dating back a century that have been read to exempt the business of baseball from federal and state antitrust laws.
The position of the AGs in the brief is that the court has mistakenly blocked enforcement of state antitrust laws for decades.
“Baseball may be ‘America’s Pastime,’ but it should also have to play by America’s laws that govern monopolies,” New York Attorney General Letitia James – yes, that Letitia James – said in a statement.
“Minor league clubs are part of the fabric of hundreds of communities throughout the nation that don’t have nearby access to a Major League Baseball stadium. By calling these clubs out of the system, Major League Baseball is punishing the fans and local communities,” James said.