Justice Sonia Sotomayor and the Relationship between Leagues and Players: Insights and Implications

Academic Article


  • This Essay examines U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s important role in shaping U.S. sports law. As a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and later on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Sotomayor authored opinions that resolved two major sports law disputes: whether Major League Baseball (“MLB”) owners could unilaterally impose new labor conditions on MLB players during the 1994 baseball strike and whether Ohio State University sophomore Maurice Clarett was obligated to wait three years from the completion of high school to become eligible for the National Football League draft. Although some critics of Justice Sotomayor charge that she sacrifices traditional legal analysis in order to advance progressive ideals, her views on the relationship between leagues and players appear far more conventional, if not rigid. This conclusion furnishes insight on how she might assess two emerging sports law disputes: whether the National Basketball Association’s eligibility restriction violates section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act and whether the National Football League ("NFL") comprises a single entity. The latter dispute is the subject of American Needle v. NFL, oral arguments for which will be heard by Justice Sotomayor and other Supreme Court justices in January 2010.
  • Authors


    Publication Date

  • 2010
  • Published In


  • American Needle v. NFL
  • Justice Sonia Sotomayor
  • Major League Baseball
  • NBA age limit
  • NFL age limit
  • antitrust
  • labor law
  • Start Page

  • 901
  • End Page

  • 923
  • Volume

  • 42