November 05, 2009
Professor Gabe Feldman, director of Tulane's sports law program, testified on November 3rd in the Congressional hearing on the NFL StarCaps case. The case involves the NFL's ability to enforce its anti-doping policies in the context of state law; the hearings focussed on whether Congressional intervention is needed. Representative Henry Waxman, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, convened the hearings before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection.
Tulane Professor Feldman testified against Congressional intervention, stating, "It is important to emphasize that the Eighth Circuit did not hold that the NFL [Performance Enhaving Drug] Policy violates Minnesota law. Instead, the court only held that the Williamses may challenge their suspensions in Minnesota state court under state law." He further stated, "This narrow potential problem warrants a very narrow solution, and many steps should be taken before Congress intervenes. The most appropriate--and simple--solution is for the NFL to litigate the case in state court and convince the court that the MInnesota laws were not intended to apply to the NFL [Performance Enhaving Drug] Policy and that suspensions do not violate the Minnesota laws. If that suit is unsuccessful, the NFL should seek an exemption from the state Legislature that makes it clear that the Minnesota laws do not apply....It that fails, the NFL and the players association should try to bargain around the Minnesota laws. If that fails, then, only as a last resort, Congress should consider passing a narrow federal law that will protect" the NFL policy.
Also testifying was NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who asked Congress to change federal labor laws to prevent states from interfering with the league's efforts to enforce its banned substances policy. Others testifying included representatives of the Commissioner of Baseball, the NFL Players Association, Major League Baseball Players Association, and the US Anti-Doping Agency.