Murphy v. NCAA

Spread the love

The parties in this case are Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association, along with all of the biggest names in amateur and professional sports: The National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, and the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball. This dispute arose because New Jersey wants to legalize sports betting at casinos and race tracks throughout the state. Atlantic City, New Jersey is not the glorious mecca that perhaps it once was, and New Jersey’s interested in giving a boost to that industry. However, there’s a law called the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which says that no government entity may authorize, license, endorse, promote sports betting by law or compact. And so, there is a clash between what New Jersey wants to do and what Congress has made it illegal for New Jersey to do. But it`s perfectly legal to play and win here:

The NCAA is opposed to sports gambling, and the professional sports leagues take the same position on the grounds that betting on sports could corrupt the game, and that they want to preserve, to the greatest degree possible, the sanctity of the sporting matches. In brief, this case is about principles of federalism versus broad exercise of federal power. The core issue in this case is whether Congress can forbid the state of New Jersey from partially lifting its existing bans on sports betting. The constitutional question is whether the Tenth Amendment and the Anti-Commandeering Doctrines of federalism support New Jersey’s efforts or whether Congress has the power under the Commerce Clause and under a Federal Preemption doctrine to regulate state lawmaking in this fashion.

The Anti-Commandeering Doctrine uh, was developed by the Supreme Court in a pair of cases from the 1990’s: New York versus United States and Printz versus United States. In essence, it says that the federal government may not compel state officials to enforce federal law, that the states cannot be commandeered by the federal government, cannot be dragooned into action by the federal government to enforce federal regulatory preferences. The strongest argument that the state of New Jersey and Governor Chris Christie has is that the PASPA is telling the states what to do.

Reaching down into the State Legislature and, in fact, forbidding state lawmakers from repealing one of their own laws. The Tenth Amendment reserves powers to the states and means that Congress cannot tell the states how to legislate in this area, that Congress may not and cannot under the Tenth Amendment dictate the terms of a state law, as the PASPA is doing here. The strongest argument for the NCAA is that this is a run-of-the-mill example of Congress regulating interstate economic activity, activity that has a substantial impact on interstate commerce.

You have the federal government, and you have the biggest names in amateur and professional sports saying that there is a federal law that prohibits the state of New Jersey from doing this, and the federal law is rooted in long-standing principles of federal regulatory power, and that New Jersey’s arguments are quite novel, that this is the sort of situation that’s never arose before, and that the supreme court should clearly side with settled federal policy. The ramifications of a victory for the state of New Jersey, in this case, is that first and foremost, New Jersey gets to legalize sports betting in the fashion that it’s done so far, which is a limited repeal of existing laws, so sports betting would proceed at casinos and racetracks throughout the state. If the NCAA prevails in this case, it’s basically the status quo, which is that PASPA remains on the books, it’s not struck down, and New Jersey and any other state that’s interested in partially legalizing sports betting cannot do so on its own. It basically remains in the hands of Congress.