Rapid Reaction to 1st day of NFL Supreme Court Case
The Supreme Court began to hear American Needle v. NFL yesterday, a case to determine if the NFL can act as a single entity, being exempt from anti-trust laws, on behalf of all of its teams for licensing agreements. If ruled as such, the fear is that this exemption will expand unregulated monopoly power to additional areas of business.
On the front page of the Sports Business Daily page today, there is a quick synopsis of how various news sources have reacted (I’d link to the actual article, but I don’t have access, and presumably, you don’t either). Although it cautions “against trying to speculate the outcome of a Supreme Court decision based solely on the questions and comportment of the justices” it goes ahead in giving that information:
- The L.A. TIMES writes there was “skepticism from most of the judges” toward the NFL’s position
- The N.Y. POST notes the NFL “didn’t seem to score a lot of winning points”
- ESPN.com states justices Scalia, Breyer and Sotomayor “seemed to lay the foundation for the court to make a more limited ruling”
This article from ESPN also relayed some excellent quotes from the Justices:
- “You are seeking through this ruling what you haven’t gotten from Congress: an absolute bar to an antitrust claim,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor told NFL lawyers.
- Several justices wondered whether the antitrust investigation could stretch to the rules of the game and scheduling, “things that it just seems odd to subject” to antitrust investigation, Chief Justice John Roberts said.
It is interesting to note that both American Needle and the NFL appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which was dismissed in the lower court. The ESPN article notes why the NFL would appeal in such a circumstance: “NFL also appealed, hoping to get broader protection from antitrust lawsuits. Major League Baseball is the only professional sports league with broad antitrust protection.”
The court is expected to issue its ruling in June. As cautioned by SBD, it is far too early to project anything based on the remarks of the justices on day 1, and the NFL certainly has plenty of time to rebound by June.