A group of Senate Republicans on Tuesday announced a bill to break up Major League Baseball’s monopoly by eliminating their special antitrust exemption, specifically citing MLB’s decision to move an All-Star game out of Georgia to protest a GOP election reform bill.
The idea for the bill, which is being introduced by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), was first floated on Twitter in the immediate aftermath of the MLB’s decision.
It comes as some Republicans are displaying open hostility towards companies they once embraced, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell even urging businesses to “stay out of politics” – though he later back-tracked on those comments.
Republicans in Georgia have taken similar measures to hit back against companies who protest the new law, with state lawmakers voting to revoke a tax break from Delta and pushing to remove Coca Cola products from the state house.
Despite the culture war angle of the antitrust bill, it could potentially garner Democratic support: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in 2019 said Congress should “reconsider” MLB’s antitrust exemption over a plan to shut down minor league teams.
The antitrust exemption, which dates back to a 1922 Supreme Court case and has been held up in multiple subsequent cases, is the only one of its kind for a sports league. Its elimination would expose MLB to antitrust litigation and weaken the MLB’s power to reduce competition.
The All-Star game will instead go to Colorado, whose two Democratic senators have used the opportunity to tout their state’s election laws, which allow all voters to vote by mail. The Georgia bill, by contrast, scales back mail-in voting, including setting new voter ID restrictions, though it also expands early voting.
“Monopolies and liberty are not compatible,” Hawley said in a Tucker Carlson Tonight appearance on Monday. “No corporation should be so big or so powerful that it can control the political process, that it can override the will of the voters.”