Major League Baseball announced on Friday that it would move two marquee scheduled events—July’s All Star Game and its player draft—from Atlanta in response to a new law, ushered in by the state’s Republican legislature and governor, that makes it harder for many Georgians to cast ballots. The bill comes just months after voters turned out in massive numbers and handed unprecedented victories to President Joe Biden and Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock—all Democrats.
In response to the relocations, elected Republicans quickly took the field to voice support for stripping Major League Baseball of a federal antitrust exemption that has been key to the league’s operations since it was won in a controversial 1922 Supreme Court case.
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.
— Rep. Jeff Duncan (@RepJeffDuncan) April 2, 2021
Rep. Jeff Duncan—a South Carolina Republican whose Twitter bio notes he is a “Lover of football”—was among the earliest to float the step, which was quickly endorsed in one way or another by several of his party’s most prominent figures, including Donald Trump Jr. and Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.
No other US sport has such an exemption, and while it’s been repeatedly held up in the courts and sustained by subsequent Congressional action, its effects have long been debated. Some credit it with helping keep longstanding teams operating in small markets, while others have complained it gives owners unfair advantages.
But moving to take it away now, after nearly a century, is a clear act of retaliation against a corporate entity that dared to take a position contrary to the modern GOP. That’s foul ball.