End of Road for Oakland: Justices Block Raiders Bid : Scrimmage Lasted for 6 Years
The six-year battle over the move of the Raiders football team to Los Angeles ended in final defeat for Oakland today when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider the city’s lawsuit to force the team’s return to the East Bay.
“It’s all over,” a jubilant Joseph Alioto, the Raiders’ lawyer, exclaimed by telephone from San Francisco. “It’s a great day for Los Angeles. It’s a great day for the American Constitution. . . . The comedy is over.”
In letting Oakland’s suit die, the justices declined to comment on the city’s novel legal theory that the power of eminent domain, allowing governments to take over private property for public use, applied to a professional football team.
“The illegal conspiracy on eminent domain by (NFL Commissioner) Pete Rozelle and the City of Oakland is finally broken,” the Raiders said in a prepared statement.
“The City of Oakland and the National Football League are now clearly responsible for damages and attorneys fees resulting from persecution, harassment and illegal efforts to drive the Raiders out of football.
“We have won in court. We have won in Congress, but the insidious reach of Pete Rozelle still continues in every direction to maintain this illegal conspiracy.”
A spokesman for the NFL said the league planned no comment because the league was not a party to the suit. Spokesmen for the City of Oakland could not be reached for immediate comment on the Supreme Court action.
William Robertson, president of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission, described the Supreme Court’s action as a “complete vindication” of the commission’s active efforts to bring the Raiders to the Coliseum, forsaken by the Los Angeles Rams in 1978.
“The Coliseum Commission has won every battle, which proves that justice will prevail. It’s a great day for the commission and a great day for the Raiders,” Robertson said.
The Raider-NFL battle began in 1980 when Al Davis, operating general partner of the Raiders, sought to move the team to Los Angeles after 19 years in Oakland. The NFL blocked the move in court, but Davis succeeded two years later and Oakland filed its eminent domain suit.
The final action today was foreshadowed in late February when the California Supreme Court let stand an appellate ruling that the Raiders could remain in Los Angeles.
The appellate court ruled in November that permitting Oakland to reclaim the Raiders under the power of eminent domain would violate a constitutional prohibition against the interference with interstate commerce.
“This is the precise brand of parochial meddling with the national economy that the commerce clause (of the U.S. Constitution) was designed to prohibit,” the appeals court said, noting that the NFL is a nationwide business.
The Raiders now plan to return to the Salinas County Superior Court that first approved the club’s move from Oakland to press for damages and attorneys fees, totaling about $25 million, according to Alioto.