Republican senators are calling for an end to Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption after the league pulled out of the 2021 All Star Game in Atlanta in protest of Georgia’s new voting law.
Sen. Mike Lee and I “will be working hard to END MLB’s antitrust immunity,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted Friday.
“Why does MLB 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,” Lee said in his own post.
Unlike all other pro sports leagues in the U.S., MLB doesn’t have to follow antitrust laws that govern players contracts, media contracts and franchise movement.
Cruz later 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?”
Among the new rules in Georgia, the state aims to require a photo ID in order to vote absentee by mail; the rules also set an earlier deadline to request an absentee ballot, limiting where ballot drop boxes can be placed and when they can be accessed. Offering food and water to voters waiting in line will now be considered a misdemeanor crime.
Former President Donald Trump lauded the law after the “travesty of the 2020 presidential election” while President Joe Biden said he was “worried” about the restrictions.
Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina on Friday said he would propose a bill to remove MLB’s exemption after the league announced its decision.
“In light of @MLB’s stance to undermine election integrity laws, I have instructed my staff to begin drafting legislation to remove Major League Baseball’s federal antitrust exception,” he tweeted.
“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.
The Supreme Court in 1922 ruled that the league is a sport, not a business, by holding that the sport was not engaged in interstate commerce.
On Friday, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement that after “thoughtful conversations with Clubs, former and current players, the Players Association, and The Players Alliance” he had decided that the “best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft.”
Manfred said MLB “fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.”
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