NJ's Pallone to Acting US Solicitor General Wall: Recommend Christie II Appeal to SCOTUS
US Representative Frank Pallone (D-New Jersey) this week sent a letter to acting US Solicitor General Jeff Wall urging that Wall recommend to the US Supreme Court that it accept the ongoing "Christie II" sports-betting legalization case on appeal. The request comes as Wall continues to assess the merits of the Christie II case, which the Supreme Court assigned to him for special examination earlier this year.
Rep. Pallone has been one of New Jersey's leading advocates at the federal level for review and possible abolishment of the Professional and Amateur Sports Betting Act (PASPA). That overriding federal measure has blocked all but four US states from offering any form of legalized sports betting for a full quarter century. The Christie II measure passed in New Jersey sought to carve out a window for legalized sports wagering in New Jersey, but was immediately -- and, to date -- successfully -- challenged by the US's major sports associations.
The legal battle between New Jersey and PASPA has continued since 2011, when the state's voters passed a referendum legalizing sports betting. That measure, now known as Christie I, was struck down in an earlier court battl, with the modified Christie II measure introduced, passed, and sent on to a similar court challenge. Several US Third Circuit courts, including its Court of Appeals, have ruled in favor of PASPA and the US sports leagues despite PASPA's overriding affront to the US's traditional "states rights" legal framework regarding gambling matters.
“This case is about whether the Third Circuit accorded sufficient room to the State of New Jersey to effectuate the will of its citizens under New Jersey’s state Constitution, laws, and sovereign powers under the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” Pallone wrote. “Without the Supreme court’s review and a decision on this appeal, these areas of disagreement and conflict will inevitably grow and lead to more confusion. After all, the question of how a state authorizes sports gambling by law or compact without violating PASPA remains extremely hazy.”
Pallone also wrote that New Jersey and the Christie II case's other petitioners have continued to argue that PASPA is unlawful on its face, for impermissibly ordering the State of New Jersey not to permit sports gambling in accordance with the New Jersey Constitution and its State laws. That's the overriding states-rights violation mentioned above.
“New Jersey should have the same opportunity to proceed with sports betting that has been allowed in other states,” Pallone also wrote. “The Third Circuit’s decisions have usurped the power of New Jerseyans and the State of New Jersey to share in the considerable profits from sports betting.”
Pallone's letter to Wall also highlights the fact that the US's PASPA law is an utter failure at its original, Puritan aim: To stamp out the "sin" of sports betting from the US. The letter includes an oft-cited industry estimate that some $400 billion is wagered on sports annually in the US, and some 99 percent of that total is wagered illegal.
The US Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether it will accept the Christie II appeal soon after it receives the recommendation from Wall. SCOTUS allmost never accepts a case in which the Solicitor General does not recommend it for acceptance, though the US's highest court will still occasionally reject a case despite the Solicitor General's affirmative recommendation. SCOTUS is expected to make its decision by the end of June.