FSU Associate Professor Files First Amicus Brief In Supreme Court PASPA Case
Ahead of its predicted early 2018 Supreme Court hearing, New Jersey’s case challenging the constitutionality of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA, 1992) has received the first of likely several amicus briefs (arguments about the case posed by unrelated third-parties). Penned by Dr. Ryan Rodenberg, an associate professor in the Florida State University Department of Sport Management specializing in sports law analytics, the letter is a recommendation that favors neither party outright. Instead, he argues only that parts of PASPA are unconstitutional and should be amended.
In his writing, Rodenberg targets two specific portions of the law that “raise constitutional issues.” These are the baffling and demonstrably unlawful facts that (1) PASPA allows private for-profit monopolies to wield regulatory control over US states and that (2) PASPA is in blatant violation of the equal sovereignty doctrine.
To the first issue, as Rodenberg states, PASPA is written to grant the major professional and amateur US sports leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NCAA) the authority “to be the primary, and oftentimes selective, enforcers of federal law.” Practically applied, PASPA gives the major sports leagues as much prosecutorial discretion over the issue of sports betting as it does the Department of Justice. Only the DOJ has never brought PASPA charges against any state, while the leagues have brought cases against three of them.
The second issue is likely more straightforward, arguing that all states in the Union have the same inherent rights under federal law. While this guarantee of “equal footing” is not an official part of the Constitution, there is ample legal precedent for the notion. Most recently, Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts spoke for the majority against a core part of 1965’s Voting Rights Act: “The fundamental principle of equal sovereignty remains highly pertinent in assessing… disparate treatment of states.”
On paper, nothing about PASPA seems to stand up to scrutiny. Not its nonsense power delegation to private parties, not the fact that it lets Nevada make billions on sports betting while barring the other 49 states from a piece of that action (and the jobs that come with it), not the fact that it muddies the waters on the legal standing of DFS leagues, and not the fact that it essentially forces millions of otherwise law-abiding Americans to the fringes of the law. In a sea of terrible legislative abuses, PASPA stands out as one of the worst. It needs to go.
LegalBettingSites.com hopes that Rosenberg’s amicus brief helps convince the judges to do the right thing.
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