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What Supreme Court Victory for Sports Gambling Means for Marijuana, Sanctuary Cities

May 15, 2018 in Economics

By Ilya Somin

Ilya Somin

Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued a 7-2 decision in Murphy v. NCAA, striking down a
federal law that blocks states from legalizing sports gambling under their own
state laws. The ruling is a major victory for federalism, and has
important implications that go beyond the issue of sports
gambling.

Murphy invalidates a provision of the federal Professional and
Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which mandates that states may not
sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or
authorize by law or compact” sports betting. A coalition of sports
leagues, including the NCAA, the NBA, the NFL, and Major League
Baseball, filed a lawsuit arguing that New Jersey’s laws partially
legalizing sports gambling within the state qualifies as
“authorization” and thus violates PASPA. New Jersey argued that
that PASPA violates the “anti-commandeering” principles of the
Tenth Amendment. Under several longstanding
Supreme Court precedents, the Tenth Amendment prevents the federal
government from compelling the states to enforce federal law,
including by forcing state legislatures to enact laws of their own.
The Supreme Court majority ruled that PASPA is unconstitutional.

Murphy v. NCAA shows the
Court is committed to the anti-commandeering principle – the
federal government can’t force states to enforce its
laws.

To get around the anti-commandeering rule, the sports leagues
and the Trump administration claimed that there is a distinction
between commandeering and federal laws blocking “affirmative
authorization” of gambling under state law. By this reasoning,
PASPA is not “commandeering” because it does not prevent complete
legalization of sports gambling. It only bans state laws that
affirmatively authorize gambling in some way, as New Jersey
supposedly does by restricting it to some types of locations and
limiting the range of teams that gamblers can bet on. Writing for a
7-2 Supreme Court majority, Justice Samuel Alito correctly
concluded that “this distinction is empty” because laws
banning affirmative “authorization” still violate “the
basic principle … that Congress cannot issue direct orders to state
legislatures.”

Justice Alito is right. The distinction between legalization and
“authorization” makes little sense, because virtually any law that
legalizes a previously banned activity, but does not completely
abolish all restrictions on it, can be described as affirmative
authorization. A decision upholding PASPA would essentially have
gutted the anti-commandeering rule, as the federal government could
easily get around it by adopting regulations preventing states from
legalizing previously forbidden behavior, so long as the
legalization law did not completely eliminate all legal constraints
on it.

The ruling has obvious implications for sports betting, which states are now largely
free to legalize as they see fit. Many may …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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