Sonia Sotomayor Rules in the High-Profile Case, Silverman v. Major League Baseball Player Relations Committee

Ruling from the bench, Sotomayor chided baseball owners, saying they had no right to unilaterally eliminate the 20-year-old system of free agents and salary arbitration while bargaining continues.

With those provisions reinstated, striking players have promised to play ball this season under the terms of the previous contract while the two sides try to hammer out a new deal.

"This strike has placed the entire concept of collective bargaining on trial," the judge said.

Sotomayor, then a federal district court judge in Manhattan, was faced with a petition filed by the National Labor Relations Board seeking a finding of unfair labor practices by baseball owners. The players had struck over the likelihood that owners would impose a salary cap, which they did. After withdrawing the cap in early 1995, owners tried a new strategy: they abolished salary arbitration, centralized player negotiations with the commissioner’s office and ended an agreement not to collude on salaries, leading to the complaint by the N.L.R.B.