Republicans want to yank baseball's antitrust immunity after MLB reaction to Georgia voting law

·1-min read
Republican delegation visit U.S.-Mexican border in Mission, Texas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Five Republican senators introduced a bill on Wednesday to strip Major League Baseball of its immunity to antitrust law, saying the legal shield wasn't deserved after the league moved its All-Star game away from Georgia to protest a law that could make it harder to vote.

Republican Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Josh Hawley, Marsha Blackburn and Mike Lee introduced the bill in the Senate, Lee's office said in a statement. A version of the bill was also introduced in the House of Representatives by a group of Republican lawmakers.

"If Major League Baseball is going to act dishonestly and spread lies about Georgia's voting rights bill to favor one party against the other, they shouldn't expect to continue to receive special benefits from Congress," Cruz said in a statement, saying that MLB has enjoyed a special exemption from antitrust laws that other professional sports leagues do not.

MLB could not be reached immediately for comment.

MLB said earlier this month that it would move its All-Star Game out of Georgia to protest the state's new voting restrictions.

Major League Baseball won exemption from the Sherman Antitrust Act under a 1922 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, which determined that professional baseball is not interstate commerce, according to a 2019 article in the Wake Forest Law Review. MLB's exemption has protected the league in its exclusive contracts for airing home team games on local cable television networks, the article said.

Under a bill passed by Congress in 1998, the Curt Flood Act, MLB did, however, lose its antitrust exemption related to labor issues.

Other professional sports leagues enjoy more limited antitrust exemptions.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Leslie Adler)