Entertainment & Sports Law

NFL Scores in 8th Circuit, Where Liberals Are Moderate

The National Football League apparently found a friendly forum when a St. Louis-based federal appeals court ruled Monday evening that the lockout could continue.

Even the most liberal judges on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals would be considered moderate in other circuits, the Washington Post reports.

Said Jon Hopeman, a frequent 8th Circuit litigator, “If the NFL can’t win before the 8th Circuit, they can’t win anywhere.” The judges will try to follow the law, but if the precedent is ambiguous, he told the Post, the players will lose.

In its 2-1 ruling on Monday, the 8th Circuit panel expressed “serious doubts” that the trial judge had jurisdiction to enjoin the lockout. The appeals court allowed the work stoppage to remain in place while the legal wrangling continues. According to the Post, “the judges all but scoffed at some of the players’ arguments, suggesting they might not fare well when the panel considers the overall legality of the lockout next month.”

The same panel had previously granted a temporary stay of the trial judge’s order lifting the lockout.

The two judges in the majority are appointees of George W. Bush and “hard-core conservatives,” the story says, citing the opinions of lawyers. The dissenter is a Clinton appointee.

Two former solicitors general are on opposite sides of the case. Paul Clement represents the NFL and Theodore Olson represents the players. The NFL is defending the lockout as a legal negotiating tactic, while the players, who dissolved their union, are claiming an unlawful group boycott and price-fixing arrangement.

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “More Pro Football Chaos as 8th Circuit Sides With NFL, Reinstates Lockout During Draft”

ABAJournal.com: “Lockout Case Asks Conservative-Leaning 8th Circuit to Decide Between Business Interests, Free Market”

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