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Lockout Case Asks Conservative-Leaning 8th Circuit to Decide Between Business Interests, Free Market

Posted Apr 27, 2011 11:09 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Litigation over the National Football League lockout is headed to the conservative-leaning 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but the experts say that doesn’t necessarily mean an NFL victory.

The New York Times talked to several experts who said it’s difficult to make predictions about the outcome of the case because it is so unusual. And what exactly is a conservative result? the newspaper asks. The players, after all, are making a free-market argument about the right to sell their labor without the structure of a players organization.

The players decertified their union after labor negotiations broke down in March, putting them in a position to file the antitrust action that claims “a patently unlawful group boycott and price-fixing arrangement.” The NFL filed notice of appeal with the St. Louis-based 8th Circuit after a federal judge granted an injunction Monday ending the lockout.

The 8th Circuit tends to side with business on labor issues, experts told the Times. But one law professor told the Times it’s difficult to predict the outcome in the NFL case because the issues are so complex. “I’m not sure the case will fall along traditional conservative-liberal lines because this is not a traditional industry, and this is not a traditional situation," said Tulane law professor Gabriel Feldman.

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