Major League Baseball responded in a court filing Monday to a lawsuit over the move of next month’s All-Star Game out of Atlanta, calling the litigation “the latest step in (a) publicity campaign” by “a conservative advocacy group.”
The lawsuit, filed last week in federal court in New York by the organization Job Creators Network (JCN), seeks an injunction returning the game to Truist Park and/or hefty monetary damages. MLB announced in early April that the game would be relocated to Denver in response to Georgia’s new voting law.
“JCN has been vocal in opposing MLB’s decision, but that does not give it a basis for federal civil rights claims,” lawyers for MLB wrote in Monday’s filing. “Moreover, despite its claims of exigency, JCN spent the last two months putting up billboards in Times Square and running inflammatory advertisements in The New York Times. When its publicity campaign had no effect, JCN decided to sue, but this Court’s time should not be wasted on political theatrics.”
A hearing is scheduled Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on JCN’s demand for an injunction.
“There is no emergency that justifies the extraordinary relief JCN seeks,” MLB argued.
MLB also argued that Job Creators Network lacks standing to seek an injunction and, even if it had standing, cannot meet its burden of demonstrating a “clear” or “substantial” likelihood of prevailing on the merits of the case, “because all of its claims are legally defective.”
The lawsuit, which seeks $100 million in damages to Georgia small businesses, plus $1 billion in punitive damages, names MLB, Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred, the MLB Players Association and MLBPA executive director Tony Clark as defendants.
“It is in the public interest for Defendants’ decision to move the All-Star Game to Denver to be upheld, thereby protecting Defendants’ right to demonstrate their values and preserving their freedom as private entities to determine where to hold their events,” MLB’s legal brief stated.
The Players Association also opposed an injunction in its own filing Monday. The union noted that it doesn’t decide where to play the All-Star Game and argued that JCN “filed this lawsuit for political theater and then doubled down on abuse of the judicial process by dragging the MLBPA and its Executive Director ... into a frivolous lawsuit.”
“The Founding Fathers did not bestow upon American cities the right to an MLB All-Star Game,” Players Association lawyers wrote.
JCN’s reply to Monday’s briefs is due Tuesday, according to the court.
“Job Creators Network plans to address all relevant issues in our filing tomorrow,” JCN attorney Howard Kleinhendler said in a statement Monday. “... Small businesses in Georgia certainly don’t feel as if JCN’s lawsuit is ‘political theatrics.’”
The lawsuit called the decision to move the All-Star Game “a knee-jerk, hypocritical and illegal reaction to misinformation about Georgia’s new voting law.” Major League Baseball’s response requoted an earlier statement by Manfred that MLB “fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.”