Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association

Justia Summary

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) makes it unlawful for a state or its subdivisions “to sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize by law or compact . . . a lottery, sweepstakes, or other betting, gambling, or wagering scheme based . . . on” competitive sporting events, 28 U.S.C. 3702(1), and for “a person to sponsor, operate, advertise, or promote” those same gambling schemes if done “pursuant to the law or compact of a governmental entity,” 3702(2), but does not make sports gambling itself a federal crime. PAPSA allows existing forms of sports gambling to continue in four states. PAPSA would have permitted New Jersey to permit sports gambling in Atlantic City within a year of PASPA’s enactment but New Jersey did not do so. Voters later approved a state constitutional amendment, permitting the legislature to legalize sports gambling in Atlantic City and at horse-racing tracks. In 2014, New Jersey enacted a law that repeals state-law provisions that prohibited gambling schemes concerning wagering on sporting events by persons 21 years of age or older; at a horse-racing track or a casino in Atlantic City; and not involving a New Jersey college team or a collegiate event. The Third Circuit held that the law violated PASPA. The Supreme Court reversed. When a state repeals laws banning sports gambling, it “authorize[s]” those schemes under PASPA. PASPA’s provision prohibiting state authorization of sports gambling schemes violates the anti-commandeering rule. Under the Tenth Amendment, legislative power not conferred on Congress by the Constitution is reserved for the states. Congress may not "commandeer" the state legislative process by directly compelling them to enact and enforce a federal regulatory program. PASPA’s anti-authorization provision dictates what a state legislature may and may not do. There is no distinction between compelling a state to enact legislation and prohibiting a state from enacting new laws. Nor does the anti-authorization provision constitute a valid preemption provision because it is not a regulation of private actors. It issues a direct order to the state legislature.