Is Donald Sterling Getting (Legal) Justice?

Is Donald Sterling getting legal justice?  Maybe not, according to conservative lawyer A.J. Delgado.

At National Review Online, Delgado contends that the penalties imposed on Sterling may not actually be justified under the NBA’s constitution and by-laws.  This is not necessarily to say that Sterling did nothing wrong for which the NBA could punish him.  Rather, Delgado argues that the NBA–reacting to public outrage, and reaching for the most spectacular possible punishment–chose a section of the by-laws that would permit a bigger penalty than would have been authorized by the section that seems more applicable to the conduct in question.


Delgado likewise suggests that the further penalty contemplated by the NBA–a forced sale of the franchise–may not be legitimate.  There is a provision that permits the other owners to force a sale.  But, according to Delgado, it is for cases in which the owner violates the by-laws or fails to perform a contractual obligation–which is not exactly the most obvious description of Sterling’s misconduct.

I don’t know whether Delgado’s argument would hold up in court, if Sterling chose to contest the NBA’s decision, although his points look plausible in light of the language he quotes from the NBA constitution and by-laws.  But his argument points to a larger issue that we need to keep in mind: even a noxious citizen has legal rights, and it is, in the long run, in everyone’s interests if moral indignation, no matter how justified, is directed and limited by rules.



Categories:Culture Uncategorized


    Hi Carson,

    With all due respect to Mr. Delgado, I don’t believe that from either a Catholic or a conservative perspective his article is relevant. This is a contract dispute between private parties who are more than able to take care of themselves. If the NBA drafted a faulty document, Mr. Sterling’s lawyers will likely prevail. That’s the way our legal system works. However, for Catholics or conservatives , should we cheering “Go get ’em Donald?” seems bizarre>

    From a Catholic point of view, what’s important are not the legalisms, but, rather that Mr. Sterling is a troubled child of God. He is either slipping into dementia or perhaps has Alcoholic Brain Syndrome. I note that the only players in this sad mess who are publicly behaving like Christians showing compassion and forgiveness are Rochelle and Magic Johnson.

    As an aside aside, I read that if a owner with a “controlling interest” is terminated, all other owners are included. Rochelle seems to be a 50% owner. Isn’t she a “controlling owner” who didn’t violate the contract?



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