In predictable fashion, the black robed oligarchs known as the United States Supreme Court will not hear New Jersey’s appeal of the federal ban on sports betting. The decision by the Supreme Court last month not to hear the case essentially lets past appeals court decisions stand. The state legislature has already taken actions to bypass the courts and move forward with legalizing sports betting anyway.
Governor Chris Christie expressed disappointment with the decision, but said in regards to the attempt to legalize sports betting in the Garden State, that it was “time to move on.” While the governor does not plan to pursue the issue further, Senator Ray Lesniak believes “it ain’t over until it’s over,” as Yogi Berra once said. The senator has introduced a bill that would “sidestep” the federal ban by repealing state bans, and according to an NJ101.5 poll, nearly two thirds of participants agree New Jersey should not give up.
Senator Lesniak’s legislation, S2250, was introduced June 23. By June 26, it had passed the Senate 38-1 with 1 not voting and the Assembly 63-6 with 9 not voting and 2 abstentions. The bill awaits Governor Christie’s decision. S2250 partially repeals state restrictions on sports betting at casinos and racetracks in New Jersey. What this means to our state is that state and local law enforcement would no longer be involved in any enforcement measures against sports betting, which is consistent with the anti-commandeering doctrine. This is not only a strategy the Tenth Amendment Center has long advocated, but one even the Supreme Court has upheld multiple times. It is, most importantly, a tactic that cripples the federal government’s ability to enforce many of the laws it has on the books.
Senator Lesniak does not believe the US Justice Department will intervene if S2250 becomes a law in New Jersey, citing recreational marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado. Even if it tries, its agents will do so without any help from state, county or municipal agencies. The roots of those two states’ nullification efforts go back even further to medical marijuana legalization, which began in California and has spread (including to New Jersey) despite the 2005 Gonzales vs. Raich decision, which held that the states could not legalize marijuana in opposition to federal law. This is a form of nullification that has proven itself throughout the years.
One thing remains for New Jersey to defy the federal government on this issue. Governor Christie must sign the bill to make it a law. Such a high profile issue that enjoys such widespread bipartisan and popular support in the Garden State would bring a great deal of attention to the nullification movement in general. It would be an excellent precedent for introducing other nullification bills. Most importantly, even for those who have no interest in gambling, it would get the federal government out of the decision process on an issue that is constitutionally none of their business. Governor Christie, place your bet on liberty and put your signature on S2250.