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Limiting Federal Control over State Policy: Christie v. N.C.A.A.

Our friend Damon Root over at Reason has a round-up of three important cases that will be decided in the Supreme Court’s upcoming term. One that we’ll be following closely is Christie v. N.C.A.A., which has to do with sports gambling and federalism. As my colleague Michelle Minton has written, this case could have a huge impact on limiting the ability of the federal government to push, cajole, and otherwise browbeat state governments into adopting certain policies:

…state lawmakers and legal scholars have increasingly raised questions about the constitutionality of the current ban [on sports betting], which blocks states from legalizing sports gambling within their own borders. This is why the Supreme Court is currently considering hearing a case that might overturn the law. The case involves a suit, Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, in which the State of New Jersey alleges that [the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992]—which the NCAA and other leagues have argued forbids New Jersey from repealing its own ban on sports gambling—violates the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which holds that powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved for the states and individuals.

In particular, the suit argues that PASPA violates the 10th Amendment by preventing states from modifying their own laws in violation of the “anti-commandeering” doctrine. This doctrine, created and upheld by previous Supreme Court rulings, holds that the 10th Amendment also protects states from being compelled to cooperate with the enforcement or implementation of federal law.

Michelle wrote a great short summary of the facts of the case on June 27th, “U.S. Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Sports Betting Case,” and Cato’s Walter Olson collects some useful links at Overlawyered. CEI joined with the Cato Institute and the Pacific Legal Foundation in an amicus brief last November which urged the Supreme Court to take the case. After the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, CEI filed another amicus brief in support of the petitioners in August 2017. 

For more on the issue see:

Note: This post was updated October 6, 2017.