Friday, October 30, 2015
Nathaniel Grow, University of Georgia - Department of Insurance, Legal Studies, Real Estate describes The Curiously Confounding Curt Flood Act.
ABSTRACT: This article provides a novel textualist interpretation of the Curt Flood Act of 1998, a relatively little known statutory provision that partially repealed professional baseball’s controversial, judicially created antitrust exemption in only a single limited respect. Aside from allowing major league baseball players to file antitrust lawsuits against Major League Baseball, the Flood Act was intended — as Congress went to great lengths to emphasize throughout the legislative process — to remain neutral regarding the continued vitality and scope of baseball’s exemption in all other respects.
Despite these clear expressions of Congressional intent, however, most subsequent courts and commentators have surprisingly interpreted the CFA quite differently, concluding that the Flood Act in fact either expressly or implicitly endorsed broad antitrust immunity for professional baseball based on a single amorphous passage in the statute. The implication of this analysis is that the judiciary now lacks the power to modify or repeal baseball’s antitrust immunity, with the exemption instead having effectively been codified by Congress.
This article contends that future courts should reject the majority interpretation of the Flood Act and instead construe the law neutrally in most respects, as Congress intended. While other commentators have previously argued that the CFA should be read narrowly in light of its legislative history, this article advances a new textualist interpretation of the Flood Act. In particular, it asserts that when properly read, the Flood Act neither codifies baseball’s antitrust exemption nor reflects Congressional acquiescence in most aspects of the immunity. Therefore, the article concludes that the judiciary retains the power to reconsider baseball’s antitrust status, should a future court wish to do so.