Transferring the economic benefits of the game from Georgia to Colorado would violate the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause by inflicting harm on Georgia businesses while benefiting those in Colorado, Howard Kleinhendler said during a hearing in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. A lawyer representing Job Creators Network argued Thursday that MLB’s decision to move the All-Star Game is punishing Georgia in an effort to intimidate the legislature into repealing the new law. “If you’re going to harm someone, you have to have a valid reason,” Kleinhendler said. “You can’t say ‘yes’ to Colorado and ‘no’ to Georgia because you don’t like an election law. That’s not a legitimate reason.”
Lawmakers acted after then-President Donald Trump claimed massive voter fraud in Georgia robbed him of carrying the state last November, charges that were subsequently dismissed by state election officials and in the courts. MLB announced it was moving next month’s All-Star Game to Denver shortly after the Republican-controlled General Assembly passed and Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill that tightens voter ID requirements in Georgia, limits locations for ballot drop boxes and prohibits non-poll workers from handing out food and drinks within 150 feet of voters standing in line.
Republicans defended the new law as a way to restore public trust in elections. Democrats charged it amounts to voter suppression. Washington, D.C.-based Job Creators Network, an advocacy group for small businesses backed by The Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, sued MLB and its players union late last month seeking either the return of the game to Truist Park in Cobb County or the payment of $100 million in damages, an estimate of the game’s potential economic impact.
The judge also declared that MLB has the legal right to take a stand on public policy. She sympathized with baseball players and coaches chosen for the All-Star Game wanting to avoid facing media questions about the issue. “That’s a policy debate that maybe MLB doesn’t want to have,” Caproni said. But Caproni maintained such public relations spending is part of the group’s core mission.
The group spent significant resources taking its case to the public, including leasing a billboard on New York’s Times Square and taking out an ad in The New York Times. But Judge Valerie Caproni, who sharply questioned Kleinhendler’s assertions throughout the hearing, ruled that Job Creators Network had no legal standing to bring the suit because it failed to demonstrate it has suffered harm from MLB’s decision.
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