Baseball Boycott vs. Arizona Immigration Law

As we have noted in recent postings, the Major League Baseball Players’ Association has condemned Arizona’s new immigration law, S.B. 1070, which is set to take effect at the end of July. The Player’s Association didn’t call for a boycott outright, but did promise to consider “additional steps necessary to protect the rights and interests” of their players, if the law goes into effect. (See MurthyBlog, Dueling Boycotts 31.May.2010 and Three Strikes Against Arizona Immigration Law, 17.May.2010.) Many see this as a veiled threat to boycott next year’s All Star Game, which – as of this writing, anyway – still is scheduled to take place in Phoenix, Arizona on July 11, 2011.

Last month, Congressman Jose Serrano introduced a resolution blasting the new Arizona immigration law, based on “legitimate concerns that the Arizona statute is unconstitutional and will lead to racial profiling by law enforcement officers.” The resolution, H.Res. 1370, finds that “holding the 2011 Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Arizona is at odds with Major League Baseball’s efforts to promote diversity and tolerance,” “urging Major League Baseball to find a more suitable location for the game.” By the end of May, the resolution had 32 co-sponsors.

Does this worry MLB Commissioner Bud Selig? Likely not – at least not yet. For the moment, the resolution is little more than an official protest, essentially toothless. The resolution may have staked out the moral high ground, but it’s a long way from having the forces marshaled to demand a change of venue for the All Star Game. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that the resolution could attract a critical mass of supporters – enough to pass the non-binding measure – Commissioner Selig might bestir himself to move the game to a less controversial venue. After all, Major League Baseball still enjoys protection from federal anti-trust laws under an exemption granted back in 1922 – but with only 33 members supporting the resolution thus far, don’t expect that to change any time soon.

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