Just four of the eight judges need to flag the issue for a hearing to be granted.
New Jersey's bid for a US Supreme Court hearing on its attempts to more widely legalize sports betting reaches a critical stage on January 13, when the US Supreme Court's eight justices hold conference to decide which cases it will hear.
In the past the court declined to hear earlier iterations of the New Jersey argument against the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).
US media reports indicate that a decision will be reached by January 17 and depends on at least four of the justices agreeing to hear the case during its 2017 session.
Because the New Jersey case has wide-reaching constitutional consequences, observers are optimistic that it will be among those selected by the justices. In addition, New Jersey has been joined in its submission by the states of Mississippi, West Virginia, Arizona, Louisiana, and Wisconsin, and the influential American Gaming Association has become increasingly vocal in lobbying for a wider dispensation.
Two briefs have been filed; one by New Jersey and one by the NJ Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. Both appeal a Third Circuit Court en banc panel’s decision this summer that ruled against New Jersey’s attempt to partially repeal sports betting laws applying to casinos and racetracks, and argue that the Constitution provides that the federal US Congress, while able to regulate citizens, may not require individual US states to govern by Congress’ instruction.
New Jersey governor Chris Christie asserts in his brief:
“Congress lacks the power to compel a State to prohibit acts under its own state laws. If all a State does is narrow its own state-law prohibitions, there is nothing Congress constitutionally may pre-empt.”
The NJ Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association brief submits that:
“PASPA regulates the content of state law without any federal rule governing commerce as its foundation.”