NEW YORK NY - JANUARY 13: Scott O'Neil President of Madison Square Garden Sports speaks during a press conference to announce commitment to bring UFC to Madison Square Garden and New York State at Madison Square Garden on January 13 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images)
The fight to legalize mixed martial arts in New York is likely to continue for some time and take more twists and turns over the coming months. When Zuffa filed a lawsuit alleging that the ban was a violation of First Amendment rights, it was surprising. What is not surprising is that New York legislators have not backed down since that development.
New York talked to a federal judge about their ban and why they feel federal involvement is unnecessary and wrong. The Hollywood Reporter has the story:
New York says that even if it's true that MMA has evolved from its no-holds-barred origins, and that the UFC has crafted rules that protect the safety and health of its fighters, the only thing that matters is whether there was a rationale behind the law's adoption at the time of its passing. To this end, New York quotes various medical experts who testified before the NY legislature in 1997 about the dangers of the sport, such as concussions, hemorrhages, lacerations and fractures. The state also says that lawmakers wanted to send a message to young people that the brutality of the sport had no place in a civilized society.
If the ban on mixed martial arts fighting is outdated, New York says that the democratically-elected branches of government will eventually rectify it. Any decision otherwise would invite too much scrutiny by courts, says the state's attorney general. The memorandum says:
"The Plaintiffs' desired rule, which would have federal courts reexamining the validity of statutes every time a challenger asserted that a once-rational classification had outlived or failed to achieve its purpose, is at odds with the principle of judicial restraint articulated by the Supreme Court."
The gist of it all is that New York says that the state law shouldn't be overturned at the federal level since there was a "rational basis" to ban the sport in 1997 and that it will be turned over if and when they determine it is correct to do so.
You can read the full 29 page memorandum over at The Hollywood Reporter.