The NFL has won another round in its ongoing battle with its League’s players.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on May 16th that the NFL’s lockout of players should remain in place until a full hearing on the legality of the lockout is heard before the Court on June 3rd.

In rendering the 2-1 decision, Judges Steven Colloton and Duane Benton reaffirmed their earlier decision granting a temporary stay of U.S. District Court Judge Susan Nelson’s April 25th ruling that lifted the lockout. The Court stated that it believed “the NFL has proven it will likely suffer some degree of irreparable harm without a stay.” In addition, the opinion specifically questioned Judge Nelson’s ruling that removed the lockout, stating, “In sum, we have serious doubts that the district court had jurisdiction to enjoin the league’s lockout, and accordingly conclude that the league has made a strong showing that is likely to succeed on the merits.”

 The Court also challenged Judge Nelson’s interpretation of federal labor law stating,

“The district court reasoned that this case does not involve or grow out of a labor dispute because the players are no longer represented by a union. We have considerable doubt about this interpretation… (the Norris-LaGuardia Act) does not specify that the employees must be members of a union for this case to involve or grow out of a labor dispute.”

Meanwhile, the parties resumed negotiations with court-ordered mediator United States Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan. Both the League and the players have been anxiously awaiting the Court’s decision as each side hopes to use the opinion as added leverage in these federally mandated negotiations.

Clearly, the Eighth Circuit ruling and the specific language used in its opinion could have a direct effect on these negotiations. The opinion certainly bodes well for the NFL as the parties prepare to return to the Eighth Circuit for the June 3rd hearing.