Tenth Amendment—Federal Commandeering of State Regulatory Power

Christie v. NCAA, No. 16-476
N.J. Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Ass’n v. NCAA
, No. 16-477

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) prohibits States from authorizing by law sports-gambling schemes. The New Jersey Legislature enacted the 2012 Sports Wagering Act, which authorized casinos and racetracks to offer wagering on sporting events taking place outside New Jersey. When challenged under PASPA, the State contended that PASPA violated the Tenth Amendment’s anti-commandeering rule. The Third Circuit rejected the State’s defense and the Supreme Court denied certiorari.

The New Jersey Legislature subsequently enacted legislation to repeal all state laws related to gambling to the extent they apply to certain sports gambling. The district court and the Third Circuit again enjoined the legislation, interpreting it as an authorization of sports gambling prohibited by PASPA.

The Supreme Court will decide next Term whether the effect of PASPA is to commandeer the resources of New Jersey to require the regulation of sports gambling in a way that New Jersey deems unnecessary. Despite the sports-gambling context, a decision in favor of New Jersey could have wide-ranging implications for the power of the federal government to regulate state law.