Needled

U.S. Supreme Court justices have a sweet deal.  Rather than decide every case that comes before them, they get to select the ones they consider important -- and could in theory decide to simply take the entire year off (rather than just their usual July-September).  Imagine that kind of freedom in any other job. 

American_Needle_v_NFL.jpgApart from departing Justice Souter, though, the black-robed brethren like to keep busy -- and, among other cases for next term, will hear arguments in a dispute over whether the National Football League violated antitrust law by negotiating an exclusive apparel licensing deal on behalf of its member teams.  American Needle Inc., one of a number of a former licensees, objected to the practice after the NFL awarded an exclusive contract to Reebok in 2001.  At issue is whether the NFL is, for antitrust purposes, a single entity or 32 individual teams and thus subject to scrutiny.  The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the NFL and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit affirmed; nevertheless, both sides asked the Supreme Court to grant cert.  (Petitions, including amicus briefs from the NBA and NHL, here.  Why not Major League Baseball as well?  Presumably because baseball has an antitrust exemption going back to 1922.)

For the moment, however, American football fans will continue to be officially clad not by Buffalo, NY-based American Needle but by a company founded in the U.K. and now a subsidiary of Germany's adidas.  As for where the  bulk of the items are manufactured, need you ask?