Updates on Two Legal Cases with Relevance to Higher Education

First, the Chronicle of Higher Education has provided this update on former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannion’s suit to receive some of the revenue generated from the sale of products bearing his image:

“A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Wednesday upheld the main thrust of a judge’s landmark decision last year declaring that NCAA rules violate federal antitrust law by restricting players’ ability to trade on their images. The decision also struck down part of  last year’s ruling, by Judge Claudia Wilken of the U.S. District Court in Oakland, Calif., which would have allowed football and men’s basketball players to be paid deferred compensation of up to $5,000 per year.

“Stating that the NCAA ‘is not above the antitrust laws’ and that its rules ‘have been more restrictive than necessary to maintain its tradition of amateurism in support of the college sports market,’ the decision—in a lawsuit brought by Ed O’Bannon, a former basketball star at UCLA—marks another victory for athletes lobbying for greater compensation.

“But it also states that allowing colleges to pay players the cost of attendance in the form of scholarships is enough of a remedy. The panel called the portion of Judge Wilken’s ruling about paying players $5,000 per year ‘erroneous,’ questioning the district court’s judgment that the payment would “be as effective in preserving amateurism as the NCAA’s current policy.”

The complete article by Andy Thomason includes a direct quotation of the core parts of the ruling and is available at: http://chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/in-obannon-case-appeals-court-agrees-that-ncaa-rules-violate-antitrust-laws

Second, Diane Ravitch’s blog includes an update on Bain vs. the California Teachers Association, quoting from an article written by Michael Hiltzik for the Los Angeles Times:

“A federal district court threw out the case of Bain v California Teachers Association, which was a victory for the unions. The suit was funded by Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst, in an effort to cripple the union. For an explanation of the suit, read this.

“As Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times explained,

“’Attacks on public employee unions, especially teachers unions, have become a permanent feature of the political landscape. But you’d be hard pressed to find one as incoherent and dishonest as a lawsuit filed last month in federal court in Los Angeles against six California and national teachers unions.

“’The lawsuit purports to defend the “free speech” rights of its plaintiffs, four California schoolteachers. But its real goal is to silence the collective voice of union members on political and educational issues. Its lesson is simple: If you don’t like the decisions your organization or community reaches through the democratic process, just refuse to pay for them.

“The plaintiffs in Bain vs. California Teachers Assn., et al, say the conditions of union membership coerce them into supporting “political or ideological” viewpoints they don’t share. StudentsFirst, an education reform group supported by wealthy hedge fund managers and the Walton family, is bankrolling the lawsuit. StudentsFirst was founded by onetime Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, who, before leaving the organization in 2014 under a cloud, established its philosophy that the problem with education is that teachers have too much power and job protection.’”

The rest of the post to Diane Ravitch’s blog, which includes statements on the court ruling from the presidents of the NEA and the AFT, is available at: http://dianeravitch.net/2015/09/30/federal-district-court-tosses-out-bain-v-california-teachers-association/.

The complete text of Miltzik’s article in the Los Angeles Times is available at: http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-20150510-column.html

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