SAN JOSE -- A federal appeals court Thursday granted San Jose's request for speedy consideration of its claim that Major League Baseball violated U.S. antitrust law by keeping the Oakland A's from moving to the city.

San Jose's lawyers had asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to set a March 24 deadline for all legal arguments, which could allow the federal judges to rule on the case by summer. The 9th Circuit had earlier called for briefs to be filed by June, a timetable that could have pushed a ruling into the latter part of the year. With Thursday's decision, San Jose's opening brief is due March 5.

San Jose sued MLB and Commissioner Allan "Bud" Selig in June, claiming violations of antitrust laws against monopolies and interference with a contract the Athletics signed with San Jose securing an option to buy downtown property for a new ballpark.

San Jose's lawyers had argued that it is critical to have a ruling in the appeal by early November, when the city's option with the A's to provide land for a downtown ballpark expires.

San Jose is appealing a federal judge's October order dismissing the city's unlawful monopoly argument, which seeks to void baseball's nearly century-old exemption from federal antitrust laws set by a series of Supreme Court rulings. The A's quest to move to San Jose has been foiled in large part by the San Francisco Giants' ownership, which has asserted territorial rights to San Jose.


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"The Court of Appeal clearly recognizes the urgency of determining San Jose's antitrust claims that MLB and Commissioner Selig are preventing relocation of the A's to San Jose," said Philip Gregory, one of the lawyers handling the case for the city.

A lawyer representing MLB in the case had no immediate response Thursday afternoon.

Contact John Woolfolk at 408-975-9346. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/johnwoolfolk1.