The city of San Jose can take its case against Major League Baseball up the legal ladder.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte ruled Friday that the city can take its antitrust arguments to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals immediately rather than having to wait for rulings in other parts of the case.
The suit is in reaction to MLB blocking a proposed move by the Oakland Athletics to San Jose.
Whyte had earlier cited baseball’s antitrust exemption when ruling against the city as it attempts to legally compel MLB to allow the A’s to move to the South Bay.
San Jose sued in June to challenge MLB rules that require a super-majority of teams (75 percent) to approve any potential franchise moves within another team’s territory.
The San Francisco Giants have opposed the move and MLB appears to recognize the Giants’ claim of territorial rights in San Jose.
The A’s and the city of San Jose already have a deal in place for land to build a stadium in downtown San Jose.
Baseball’s antitrust exemption has been on the books for nearly a century and despite challenges, it remains in effect.
Antitrust laws are designed to limit monopolies and allow for potential competing businesses to challenge restrictions on trade that an established monopoly might engage in.
The crux of the matter is the antitrust exemption. Until it is reversed—if it ever is, in fact, reversed—MLB pretty much has carte blanche when it comes to what cities are allowed to have franchises.
Pretty much, if the Giants claim to hold territorial rights to San Jose and MLB recognizes that claim, that’s pretty much the proverbial ballgame, short of the courts overturning the antitrust exemption MLB enjoys.
The Supreme Court has ruled twice that the rationale for that court’s initial 1922 decision that MLB did not engage in interstate trade and was therefore exempt from antitrust regulations was incorrect. However, the high court stopped short of revoking the exemption each time because Congress has not changed the law.