Eleven professional golfers, including Phil Mickelson, have filed an anti-trust lawsuit against the Professional Golf Association (PGA). The players have been suspended from PGA events because they are playing in the LIV Golf Invitational Series. Given the sorry state of our culture, the lawsuit is par for the course.
The lawsuit alleges that the PGA has “denied them [suspended players] income-earning opportunities… and unlawfully prevented them from exercising their independent contractor rights.” Given that LIV reportedly paid Mickelson $200 million to play in LIV events, the claim that the PGA has denied him “income-earning opportunities” is preposterous.
The PGA has a moral right to establish terms and conditions for the members of that organization. Players have the right to accept those terms and conditions or exercise their “independent contractor rights” and play elsewhere. While alleging that the PGA has “unlawfully prevented them from exercising their independent contractor rights,” the players have exercised their independent contractor rights by playing in LIV events. However, they don’t like the PGA’s terms and conditions and seek to force the association to adopt policies more to the player’s liking. Sadly, this is occurring with greater and greater frequency.
As one example, when tenants don’t like the terms and conditions offered by landlords, many seek to use rent control, “ban the box” laws, and “just cause eviction” laws to force landlords to act as the renters desire. They want to use regulations and controls to compel property owners to offer terms and conditions more to their liking. Fundamentally, both the golfers and housing activists are attacking the right to contract.
The right to contract protects each individual’s freedom to voluntarily enter into an agreement with other parties. Each party has the freedom to accept or reject the terms and conditions offered by others. Each has the freedom to sign the agreement or find other individuals with whom to associate. But no party has the right to force others to accept his terms and conditions. This is true whether one is a wealthy golfer or a low-income individual.