Three Republican senators announced on Tuesday they were introducing legislation to remove Major League Baseball’s (MLB) special antitrust exemption over the organization’s decision to move its All-Star Game away from Atlanta, Georgia.
MLB made that decision in response to a new law passed by Republican lawmakers in the state that imposes restrictive voting rules, particularly because the legislation makes voting especially more burdensome for Black and Brown voters.
Using ironic language lambasting “woke” companies involving themselves in politics — an action Republicans don’t seem to mind as much when it comes to corporate contributions for their own campaigns — Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) held a press briefing to announce their intention to declare MLB a monopoly.
They were not shy in explaining the legislation was meant to be retaliatory in nature.
“What prompted this legislation being introduced was Major League Baseball’s decision to pull the All-Star Game out of Atlanta,” Cruz said in his remarks.
“This past month, we have seen the rise of the woke corporation. We have seen the rise of big business enforcing a woke standard,” Cruz added.
One night prior, while speaking as a guest on Fox News‘s “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Hawley also accused MLB of being a monopoly, while similarly blasting the organization for taking a political stance.
“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,” Hawley said.
MLB was granted an exemption to federal antitrust laws in admittedly questionable ways, through a 1922 Supreme Court ruling that determined such laws didn’t apply to the league because the playing of games didn’t amount to interstate commerce according to the justices at that time. (Many historians allege that it was Associate Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’s passion for the game that led to the decision.)
Still, whether justified or not, the move by these three Republican senators indicates a growing pattern within the GOP of legislating with the intent to cause harm based on political differences, similar to the punitive approach that former President Donald Trump often took in dealing with matters of state.
The decision to move the All-Star Game, which typically brings in tens of millions of dollars in local revenues to host cities and their surrounding areas, out of Atlanta this year came after Georgia lawmakers passed a law placing unnecessary restrictions on voting, particularly affecting communities of color in the state. The new rules impose stricter voter ID standards, curtail the use of ballot drop boxes, and gives the state legislature enormous new powers, including more authority over the state election board and the ability to suspend county election officials they don’t agree with, appointing new individuals to serve in their stead.
MLB isn’t the only corporate entity to take action. Two Atlanta-based companies, Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines, under public pressure, voiced dissatisfaction with the new law as well. Actor Will Smith and director Antoine Fuqua also reacted to the law by moving production of a film they were working on out of the state.