MR. JUSTICE CLARK delivered the opinion of the Court.
This action for treble damages and injunctive relief, brought under § 4 of the Clayton Act,
Since the complaint was dismissed its allegations must be taken by us as true. It is, therefore, important for us to consider what Radovich alleged. Concisely the complaint states that:
1. Radovich began his professional football career in 1938 when he signed with the Detroit Lions, a National League club. After four seasons of play he entered the Navy, returning to the Lions for the 1945 season. In 1946 he asked for a transfer to a National League club in Los Angeles because of the illness of his father. The Lions refused the transfer and Radovich broke his player contract by signing with and playing the 1946 and 1947 seasons for the Los Angeles Dons, a member of the All-America Conference.
2. The black-listing was the result of a conspiracy among the respondents to monopolize commerce in professional football among the States. The purpose of the conspiracy was to "control, regulate and dictate the terms upon which organized professional football shall be played throughout the United States" in violation of §§ 1 and 2 of the
3. As part of its football business, the respondent league and its member teams schedule football games in various metropolitan centers, including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. Each team uses a standard player contract which prohibits a player from signing with another club without the consent of the club holding the player's contract. These contracts are enforced by agreement of the clubs to black-list any player violating them and to visit severe penalties on recalcitrant member clubs. As a further "part of the business of professional football itself" and "directly tied in and connected" with its football exhibitions is the transmission of the games over radio and television into nearly every State of the Union. This is accomplished by contracts which produce a "significant portion of the gross receipts" and without which "the business of operating a professional football club would not be profitable." The playing of the exhibitions themselves "is essential to the interstate transmission by broadcasting and television" and the actions of the respondents against Radovich were necessarily related to these interstate activities.
In the light of these allegations respondents raise two issues: They say the business of organized professional football was not intended by Congress to be included within the scope of the antitrust laws; and, if wrong in this contention, that the complaint does not state a cause of action upon which relief can be granted.
Respondents' contention, boiled down, is that agreements similar to those complained of here, which have for many years been used in organized baseball, have
The Court was careful to restrict Toolson's coverage to baseball, following the judgment of Federal Baseball only so far as it "determines that Congress had no intention of including the business of baseball within the scope of the federal antitrust laws." 346 U. S., at 357. The Court reiterated this in United States v. Shubert, supra, at 230, where it said, "In short, Toolson was a narrow application of the rule of stare decisis." And again, in International Boxing Club, it added, "Toolson neither overruled Federal Baseball nor necessarily reaffirmed all that was said in Federal Baseball. . . . Toolson is not authority for exempting other business merely because of the circumstance that they are also based on the performance of local exhibitions." 348 U. S., at 242. Furthermore, in discussing the impact of the Federal Baseball decision, the Court made the observation that that decision "could not be relied upon as a basis of exemption for other segments of the entertainment business, athletic or otherwise. . . . The controlling consideration in Federal Baseball . . . was . . . the degree of interstate activity involved in the particular business under review." Id., at 242-243. It seems that this language would have made it clear that the Court intended to isolate these cases by limiting them to baseball, but since Toolson and Federal Baseball are still cited as controlling authority in antitrust actions involving other fields of business, we now specifically limit the rule there established to the facts there involved, i. e., the business of organized professional baseball. As long as the Congress continues to acquiesce we should adhere to—but not extend—the interpretation of the Act made in those cases. We did not extend them to boxing or the theater because we believed
If this ruling is unrealistic, inconsistent, or illogical, it is sufficient to answer, aside from the distinctions between the businesses,
We now turn to the sufficiency of the complaint. At the outset the allegations of the nature and extent of interstate commerce seem to be sufficient. In addition to the standard allegations, a specific claim is made that radio and television transmission is a significant, integral part of the respondents' business, even to the extent of being the difference between a profit and a loss. Unlike International Boxing, the complaint alleges no definite percentage in this regard. However, the amount must be substantial and can easily be brought out in the proof. If substantial, as alleged, it alone is sufficient to meet the commerce requirements of the Act. See International Boxing, supra, at 241.
Likewise, we find the technical objections to the pleading without merit. The test as to sufficiency laid down by Mr. Justice Holmes in Hart v. B. F. Keith Vaudeville Exchange, 262 U.S. 271, 274 (1923), is whether "the claim is wholly frivolous." While the complaint might have been more precise in its allegations concerning the purpose and effect of the conspiracy, "we are not prepared to say that nothing can be extracted from this bill that falls under the act of Congress . . . ." Id., at 274. See also United States v. Employing Plasterers Assn., 347 U.S. 186 (1954).
Petitioner's claim need only be "tested under the Sherman Act's general prohibition on unreasonable restraints of trade," Times-Picayune Publishing Co. v. United States, 345 U.S. 594, 614 (1953), and meet the requirement that petitioner has thereby suffered injury. Congress has, by legislative fiat, determined that such prohibited activities are injurious to the public
Respondents' remaining contentions we believe to be lacking in merit.
We think that Radovich is entitled to an opportunity to prove his charges. Of course, we express no opinion as to whether or not respondents have, in fact, violated the antitrust laws, leaving that determination to the trial court after all the facts are in.
The difficult problem in this case derives for me not out of the Sherman Law but in relation to the appropriate compulsion of stare decisis. It does not derive from the Sherman Law because the most conscientious probing of the text and the interstices of the Sherman Law fails to disclose that Congress, whose will we are enforcing, excluded baseball—the conditions under which that sport is carried on—from the scope of the Sherman Law but included football. I say this, fully aware that the Sherman Law's applicability turns on the particular circumstances of activities pursued in trade and commerce among the several States. But whether the conduct of an enterprise is within or without the limits of the Sherman Law is, after all, a question for judicial determination, and conscious as I am of my limited competence in matters athletic, I have yet to hear of any consideration that led this Court to hold that "the business of providing public baseball games for profit between clubs of professional baseball players was not within the scope of the federal antitrust laws," Toolson v. New York Yankees, 346 U.S. 356, 357, that is not equally applicable to football.
But considerations pertaining to stare decisis do raise a serious question for me. That principle is a vital ingredient of law, for it "embodies an important social policy." Helvering v. Hallock, 309 U.S. 106, 119. It would disregard the principle for a judge stubbornly to persist in his views on a particular issue after the contrary had become part of the tissue of the law. Until then, full respect for stare decisis does not require a judge to forego his own convictions promptly after his brethren have rejected them.
The considerations that governed me two years ago in United States v. International Boxing Club, 348 U.S. 236,
I would affirm.
MR. JUSTICE HARLAN, with whom MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN joins, dissenting.
What was foreshadowed by United States v. International Boxing Club, 348 U.S. 236, has now come to pass. The Court, in holding that professional football is subject to the antitrust laws, now says in effect that professional baseball is sui generis so far as those laws are concerned, and that therefore Federal Baseball Club v. National League, 259 U.S. 200, and Toolson v. New York Yankees, Inc., 346 U.S. 356, do not control football by reason of stare decisis. Since I am unable to distinguish football from baseball under the rationale of Federal Baseball and Toolson, and can find no basis for attributing to Congress a purpose to put baseball in a class by itself, I would adhere to the rule of stare decisis and affirm the judgment below.
If the situation resulting from the baseball decisions is to be changed. I think it far better to leave it to be dealt with by Congress than for this Court to becloud the situation further, either by making untenable distinctions between baseball and other professional sports, or by discriminatory fiat in favor of baseball.
"SEC. 4. That any person who shall be injured in his business or property by reason of anything forbidden in the antitrust laws may sue therefor in any district court of the United States in the district in which the defendant resides or is found or has an agent, without respect to the amount in controversy, and shall recover threefold the damages by him sustained, and the cost of suit, including a reasonable attorney's fee."
Injunctive relief is provided for by 38 Stat. 737, 15 U. S. C. § 26.
"SEC. 1. Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States . . . is hereby declared to be illegal. . . ."
26 Stat. 209, 15 U. S. C. § 2, reads in pertinent part:
"SEC. 2. Every person who shall monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person or persons, to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States . . . shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor . . . ."