Brian Saady Reporting for G911 - New Jersey passed a statewide voter referendum to legalize sports betting in 2011. The sports leagues sued the state of New Jersey as their legislation violated a federal law that bans sports betting, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), in every state other than Nevada, Delaware, Montana, and Oregon. In response, the state of New Jersey appealed the constitutionality of this decision through the federal courts. Their attornies contested, to no avail, that PASPA violates the 10th Amendment.
New Jersey appealed this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to take their case. However, the U.S. Supreme Court recently asked the Solicitor General to file a brief with more details. In other words, one or more of the justices seem to be interested in this case. Therefore, if the new U.S. Solicitor General believes that there is merit to New Jersey's appeal, then there is a good chance that the U.S. Supreme Court would hear their case. Hence, whoever is appointed as the next U.S. Solicitor General could have a major impact on the future of sports gambling.
Chuck Cooper (a D.C.-based attorney with connections to Trump and Jeff Sessions) was reportedly the first choice of President Trump. However, Cooper has since withdrawn his name for consideration due to the negativity associated with the nomination process for Jeff Sessions.
According to law.com, Miguel Estrada is now the likely frontrunner for the job. He's an especially relevant name with this issue because he's a partner with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. That firm has received over $6 million to represent New Jersey's challenge against PASPA. In fact, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher has been somewhat of a nemesis to the NFL. Their firm represented the NFL Players' Union during the players' strike of 2011 and an anti-trust civil suit of 2009. In addition, their firm issued this report that was critical of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) due to its burdens on financial institutions.
Estrada has yet to be named as the nominee, but he worked in the Office of the Solicitor General during the George W. Bush administration. With that said, like Chuck Cooper, Estrada may now be reluctant to go through the nomination process. Estrada was nominated in 2001 by George W. Bush for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He was aggressively filibustered by the Democrats because he was part of the infamous U.S. Supreme Court case, Bush v Gore, which decided the 2000 Presidential election. Ultimately, Estrada withdrew his name from consideration and he returned to Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.
To sum up, the news of Miguel Estrada as the next potential U.S. Solicitor General is promising news if you're a supporter of legalized sports gambling. Maybe this issue will be finally legislated on a state by state basis.