Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court court heard the first oral arguments in Christie v NCAA. If you're not familiar with this case, New Jersey is trying to overturn the federal sports beeting ban, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA). The law blocks states from legalizing sports gambling within their own borders. The state of New Jersey asserts that this is a violation of the 10th Amendment because four states, primarily Nevada, were grandfathered in and able to still offer legal sports betting in their states. (My latest article with The American Conservative has many interesting background details on the case.)
|Las Vegas Sportsbooks such as this one may get some competition in the future, depending upon the outcome of Christie v NCAA. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)|
Make no mistake, the federal ban on sports gambling could easily be overturned in a conservative Supreme Court (5 Republicans - 4 Democrats). The reason is that Christie v NCAA is a states' rights battle, not a gambling issue. And, generally, the conservative viewpoint supports states' rights.
The transcript shows that three of the liberal Justices (Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Kagan) began with an aggressive line of questioning for Theodore B. Olson who was arguing on behalf of New Jersey. (Olson served as the Solicitor General during the George W. Bush administration.) However, the left-of-center Justice Stephen Breyer seemed to show his leaning from the beginning. He seemed to be making Olson's case for him by, at one point, citing the Airline Deregulation Act. However, Breyer later pivoted and essentially pointed to other issues in favor of New Jersey's case.
|U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer - Wikimedia Commons|
As usual, Clarence Thomas didn't speak, but he's a strong advocate for states' rights. His four conservative counterparts seemingly signaled their support of New Jersey's case with their questioning. And, in the end, nearly every legal analyst believes at least five and maybe six Justices will vote to overturn PASPA. That includes sports law expert and media figure, Daniel Wallach, who believes that it is 6 to 3 in favor of New Jersey. Wallach believes that it will go according to party lines, other than Breyer who will rule in favor of New Jersey.
Likewise, in a more sports betting friendly format, Dustin Gouker of the Legal Sports Report set a fictional over/under on the number of Justices leaning in favor of New Jersey at 5.5.
So far, so good. We'll have to see how this proceeds. Hopefully, this senseless, crony capitalist federal sports betting ban will be overturned.