My main takeaway from the transcript is that the Supreme Court will reject the 7th Circuit's classification of the NFL as a single entity (a classification that I have described as being legally wrong in two law review articles--here and here).
However, some justices may be willing to outline a more narrow antitrust exemption for sports leagues.
Among the justices who seem most likely to reverse and remand is Hon. Antonin Scalia, who responded to Hon. Stephen Breyer's broad questioning about the competitive effects of joint licensing with the following inquiry (p. 18-19):
- JUSTICE SCALIA: Is this issue before us here? Or is it just the issue of whether the lower court was wrong to dismiss your suit on the basis that this is a unitary operation? I think that was the only issue.
- MR. NAGER: You're -- that is the only issue, Justice Scalia.
- JUSTICE SCALIA: Well, why am I worrying about this other stuff.
NFL Counsel Greg Levy gave a long answer to this question but never directly addressed the NFL's failed efforts in Congress.
Marc Edelman is an Assistant Professor at Barry University’s Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law, where he teaches in the areas of contracts, property, antitrust and sports law. His full collection of law review articles is available here. Professor Edelman’s article, Why the ‘Single Entity’ Defense Can Never Apply to NFL Clubs: A Primer on Property Rights Theory in Professional Sports, has been cited in three Supreme Court briefs on this case.