The Supreme Court’s recent decision to rule a 25-year-old federal ban against state-authorized sports betting as unconstitutional was seen as a victory for New Jersey — and potentially all other states. The implications of the ruling extend far beyond sport event betting; now, states have been empowered to make their own decisions on anything from marijuana regulations to sanctuary city designations.
Back in 1992, Congress passed a law to preserve the integrity of sporting events, thus barring all states (except Nevada) from betting on the majority of such games. But this was in direct violation of the 10th Amendment, argued New Jersey, which grants power to the states on issues that the U.S. Constitution has not already delegated to the federal government. That’s why each state has its own laws pertaining to drug crimes, for example. New York State maintains its own Zero Tolerance Law, which will charge drivers under the age of 21 with a DWI if their BAC levels are 0.02% or above. But there have been instances wherein the federal government has tried to force a state to follow federal laws — and that’s where this ruling comes in.
The congressional law forced individual states to comply with federal gambling laws, but the Supreme Court has now lifted that ban on the reasoning that the U.S. government cannot tell individual states what to do with their own laws. While national athletic associations and sports teams were not in favor of the decision, many state legislators and former politicians rejoiced.
Ultimately, the landmark decision is about so much more than sports gambling. Experts have pointed out that the ruling could have big implications for a number of hot-button political issues, including immigration and sanctuary cities, regulation of assisted suicide, environmental efforts, and marijuana legislation.
As Ilya Shapiro, senior fellow in constitutional studies at Cato Institute, explained to Syracuse.com: “The court ruled definitively that the federal government can’t force states to enforce federal law. In the immigration context, this means it can’t require state or local officials to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.”
This point may be of particular interest to those living in Rochester and Syracuse, as they’re among the group of sanctuary cities that were threatened to lose out on public safety grants for not complying with the Trump administration’s policies on immigration enforcement. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit and four federal district courts have already ruled against those policies, but this Supreme Court ruling has added even more fuel to the fire.
Had the Supreme Court upheld the ruling, Congress may have been able to be more assertive on other issues. But now, experts say, the ruling could keep the federal government from being overly aggressive in areas that should truly be determined by the American people.