ASAE Files Amicus Brief to Supreme Court on Association Membership Case
The case revolves around whether a plaintiff challenging an association for alleged antitrust violations can include association members as codefendants solely due to their membership and adherence to the group’s rules, codes, or standards.
On September 1, ASAE filed an amicus curiae brief to the U.S. Supreme Court [PDF], supporting the United States Soccer Federation’s request for the Court to review a case with significant implications for associations [PDF]. The case revolves around whether a plaintiff challenging an association for alleged antitrust violations can include association members as codefendants solely due to their membership and adherence to the association’s rules, codes, or standards.
Many associations set requirements for their members, from ethics codes to business practices. ASAE’s brief highlights the widespread presence of associations in the U.S. and argues that subjecting association members to antitrust lawsuits solely based on their membership and compliance with associated requirements could severely harm both associations and their members. This issue reached the Supreme Court previously in 2016, when ASAE submitted briefs [PDF] as well, but was resolved without a ruling by the Court.
The current case involves Relevant Sports, a commercial soccer promotion firm, suing the U.S. Soccer Federation over alleged anticompetitive behavior related to FIFA’s rules. A federal appeals court ruled that membership and agreement to follow an association’s rules suffice to include a member as a defendant in antitrust allegations, which conflicts with other appeals courts’ decisions. The Supreme Court’s consideration is significant due to the potential implications for thousands of similar cases.
It’s not yet certain whether the Court will agree to hear this specific case. Even if it does, a ruling might take weeks or months to be issued but would hold substantial importance for associations and their members nationwide.