Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

The Supreme Court (of Baseball)

Yale Law Journal Online, Vol. 121, p. 143, 2011

33 Pages Posted: 3 Dec 2011 Last revised: 7 Mar 2013

Aaron Zelinsky

University of Maryland Francis Carey School of Law

Date Written: September 27, 2011


This Essay examines the similarities between the Supreme Court and the Commissioner of Baseball. First, it traces the Justice-Commissioner analogy back over a century, finding that the Commissioner of Baseball has been compared to the Supreme Court since the Office of the Commissioner was created. This is no coincidence, since both Justices and Commissioners play the same structural roles in their respective systems. Second, this Essay illustrates the similarity of Justices and Commissioners through nine paired case studies where Justices and Commissioners have, in their respective capacities, (1) provided guidance, (2) refrained from error correction, (3) undertaken rule-making, (4) exercised counter-majoritarian powers, (5) provided explanations for their decisions, (6) protected the fundamental values of their respective institutions, (7) employed special masters for fact-specific inquiries, (8) decided on statutes of limitations, and (9) exercised finality.

Keywords: Law, Baseball, Supreme Court, Judge-Umpire Analogy

Suggested Citation

Zelinsky, Aaron, The Supreme Court (of Baseball) (September 27, 2011). Yale Law Journal Online, Vol. 121, p. 143, 2011. Available at SSRN:

Aaron Zelinsky (Contact Author)

University of Maryland Francis Carey School of Law ( email )

500 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201-1786
United States

Paper statistics

Abstract Views