“Tom Brady’s Deflategate Suspension Reinstated”

Source: Tom Brady’s Deflategate Suspension Reinstated – The New York Times

A three-judge panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit overturned a lower-court ruling.

I figured this would happen. The federal judge whose decision was here overturned did not, in my view, seem to understand the difference between U.S. law and NFL rules and regulations.

That is, the NFL is not a court, but does–as is supported by the 2d Circuit panel here–have leeway to enforce its rules.

The media didn’t grasp it either. As you’ll see from the opening paragraphs of Michael Powell’s NYT column reporting the original decision and misunderstanding the difference:

Ah, Roger, being king isn’t what it used to be.

The N.F.L.’s unionized vassals have struck yet another legal blow at their overlords. Judge Richard M. Berman of Federal District Court in Manhattan pushed questions of deflated balls and texts and a destroyed cellphone to the side Thursday. He ruled that the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, who is fond of acting as judge and jury, cannot make up legal procedure as he goes along.

The words “fundamentally unfair” appear in Berman’s decision, accompanied by a chaser of “inadequate” and “improperly denied.” Goodell, the judge noted, tried to dispense “his own brand of industrial justice.”

That is not legal.

Maybe not legal in the U.S. constitutional sense, but it didn’t have to be. The “constitution” that applies here was the one devised by the owners of NFL football teams. And those are the rules the Pats and all other teams have to play within.

It reminds me somewhat of the working world distinction I came to experience and understand: an office is not a democracy. Neither is the NFL. You are not free to do and/or say whatever you want.

Or, rather, you are free. But your boss is equally free–to reprimand or suspend or even fire you.

By the way, I learned years ago that higher courts do not like overturning a lower court judge’s decisions. It is a rebuke to the lower court judge who may, in the future, become a colleague on the higher court. High squirm quotient.

I imagine Judge Richard Berman is not feeling very good today. But he’s a senior status judge so maybe he doesn’t care.

 

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