Christie v. NCAA: The Modern Fight For The Tenth Amendment


In modern America, the Bill of Rights is treated as a suggestion booklet. The Second Amendment states that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, through it is often limited and watered down by excessive regulation. The Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures, though the federal government regularly violates people’s privacy in the digital age. These are just some of the many numerous examples.

And then there’s the Tenth Amendment.

The Tenth Amendment has a fairly straight-forward premise. Whatever is not specifically authorized for the federal government or prohibited for the states is a power left to the states and the people. Although lawyers, politicians and judges prefer to make this seem like a difficult concept to grasp, the plain text of the Constitution is fairly straight forward.

Yet, time and time again the Tenth Amendment is broken down by ignorant politicians and arrogant judges. The tide could potentially turn however with a landmark case currently being considered.

Since 1992, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act has outlawed sports betting. Now New Jersey is seeking to have the law ruled unconstitutional.

The people of New Jersey sought to move forward with sports betting within its state, even with PASPA on the books. The result was a number of professional sports leagues taking issue and seeking to stop this from occurring. The battle has played out in the courts and made its way all the way up to the Supreme Court. Oral arguments occurred this month, and a ruling is expected next month.

The issue at hand is whether or not PAPSA is commandeering. In 1992, the Supreme Court stated the federal government could not coerce or otherwise force a state into carrying out laws. In New York v. United States, it was held that an attempt to force a state to participate in a federal regulatory program was unconstitutional. Printz v. United States also shot down commandeering in 1997, when the Supreme Court stated the federal government could not force local commanding law enforcement officers to conduct background checks against their will.

In other words, the federal government cannot make a law and then command the states to carry it out for them. States aren’t administrative arms of the federal government.

It would seem likely based on precedent and oral arguments that the Supreme Court is likely to rule in favor of New Jersey. This would be an enormous victory for the Tenth Amendment. Not only would this open the gates for sports gambling, it would also open the doors for other issues as well. States may start wanting to sue the federal government to reverse other pieces of overreaching legislation.

The federal ban on sports gambling is excessive. The nanny state should not be deciding how people live their lives. Beyond this, upholding the law would set a dangerous precedent in favor of federal commandeering of the states. If the Supreme Court actually cares about the Constitution it swears to uphold, they will rule in favor of the State of New Jersey. It’s time the Tenth Amendment is fully restored.

Chris Dixon is a liberty activist and writer from Maine. In addition to being Managing Editor for the Liberty Conservative, he also writes the Bangor Daily News blog "Undercover Porcupine" and for sports website Cleatgeeks.

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