Eviscerating the legal arguments of a pro-Donald Trump lawyer deeply involved in efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, a federal judge refused to issue an injunction forcing Major League Baseball to move the All-Star Game back to Atlanta, Georgia.
“You can’t possibly think that,” an audibly frustrated U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni told attorney Howard Kleinhendler, who compared the league’s advocacy against Georgia’s voting law to illegal intimidation.
“That’s just not true,” Caproni said.
In her ruling, delivered after feisty oral arguments, Caproni slammed Kleinhendler’s comparison of Atlanta’s loss of the All-Star Game to the “loss of a child’s innocence” as unhelpful hyperbole.
To call the lawsuit “weak and muddled is an understatement,” she added.
Those were just examples of the many dressing-downs that Judge Caproni delivered to the lawyer for the conservative Job Creators Network (JCN), which filed a federal lawsuit in New York seeking to reverse MLB’s decision to move the All-Star Game from Atlanta, Georgia to Denver, Colorado in the wake of Georgia’s new voting law. The law’s opponents have called SB 202 a “voter suppression bill” meant to appease “conspiracy theorists” upset about the 2020 election outcome.
JCN is represented by one of the key figures behind the conspiratorial legal offensive to overturn the 2020 election results: Kleinhendler, who was part of the so-called “Kraken” legal team that unsuccessfully tried to topple elections in Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona.
Over the course of more than an hour-and-a-half-long arguments session on Thursday, Kleinhendler claimed that the league’s opposition to SB 202 damaged his client because—if the MLB succeeded in rescinding the legislation—democracy in Georgia would be harmed by the dilution of valid votes.
Judge Caproni found that argument was way out of left field.
“You have gotten so far afield of your client’s interests,” she said.
“How is that at all relevant to this case?” the judge asked, later.
Emphasizing that the merits of voting laws are not at issue, Caproni added: “This case is not about whether the Georgia law is a good law or a bad law.”
Caproni’s frustration was palpable over the course of an hour that she questioned Kleinhendler that she appeared to raise her voice frequently and at one point, interjected, “For God’s sake!”
She was no less scathing about Kleinhendler’s arguments that MLB qualified as a state actor because it accepts large amounts of taxpayer money.
Using a homespun expression, the Alabama-born Judge Caproni described that argument as one being about private businesses “sucking on the public tit,” but she said that this practice does not a public actor make.
“You seem to think everybody is a public actor,” she exclaimed.
Shredding Kleinhendler’s equal protection arguments, Caproni pressed him for any support for the proposition that the residents of Georgia were a protected class.
Kleinhendler noted that a pizza shop cannot refuse to serve Black people.
“That’s correct because you’re discriminating on the basis of race,” Caproni countered, adding that this comparison had nothing to do with the MLB’s case.
When she pressed for precedent on residents of a state, Kleinholder cited an equal protection case about political affiliations.
“That’s political affiliations,” Judge Caproni shot back.
The judge’s interrogation was so throrough that the MLB’s lawyer began his remarks by saying that Caproni had covered most of his points, including his “surprise” point about the First Amendment.
“Sorry, I took your thunder,” Caproni quipped.
Though Kleinhendler’s oral arguments lasted more than an hour, lawyers for the MLB and its union, the Major League Baseball Players Association, spoke for a few minutes apiece. The MLBPA’s lawyer joked it was one of the few times the league and the union were on the same page.
That line even appeared to make Judge Caproni chuckle.
The judge found, among other things, that the plaintiff lacked standing. The lawsuit is not at the dismissal stage, but it now hangs by a thread. Caproni said she would schedule a conference in July—”assuming” the plaintiff wishes to continue it, she added.
(Image via CBS 46 screengrab)
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