By Nathan Barton
The WaPo reports that SCOTUS has overturned a federal law which has been on the books for a quarter-century, The law, supposedly to protect the ‘integrity of collegiate and professional sports, enacted in 1992, prohibited 49 states from authorizing betting on team sports such as football, baseball, basketball, and hockey.
Now, I do not gamble (on sports events or most other things; my gambling has to do with staying out of trouble or not, and accomplishing projects against bad odds, kind of like farmers and ranchers gamble on crops growing or livestock surviving. I believe that gambling on sports or elections or which way the chicken runs across the road is not morally right.
But I don’t see that government has any business, right, legitimate power, requirement, obligation, or legitimate reason to try and regulate betting money, matchsticks, m&m’s or cigarettes on team sports, individual sports, animal antics, weather, elections, or anything else. None, nada, zip. I also fail to see any excuse for government to attempt to do so by some strange clause in the US Constitution, or some sort of referendum or initiative or compact.
Indeed, the only possibly legitimate situation in which some form of government could get involved in would involve a court where there was fraud or theft – for example, if someone threw a game to win (or help someone else win) a wager. But that is covered under natural law; it is fraud and/or theft. You don’t need special laws to make fraud immoral or illegal: it is aggression.
And of course, the idea of the federal government having any power to “authorize” a state (or for that matter, local) government to regulate something is just plain a joke.
Yet that is the basis of that 1992 law: that the FedGov must authorize a state to regulate something – and therefore also has the power to prohibit a state from regulating something.
Which brings me to this SCOTUS decision. While the decision is the correct one: , the decision is entirely for the wrong reasons. I’m not an attorney, so I don’t pretend to understand all the convoluted reasoning in either the opinion or the dissent. But it seems to me that since Congress decided not to regulate the “sports wagering industry” that it could not prohibit the states from doing so. As the WaPo puts it: “But the court’s majority Monday said that violated states’ rights to make their own decisions, when Congress has not passed legislation to regulate an activity.”
Sorry, can’t find that in the Constitution. And even if it were, can anyone explain what (besides the muzzle of a gun) gives Congress the power to do that? (Or who and what gives Congress to treat Nevada different than the other 49 states, for that matter? Or betting on sports contests different from betting on the spin of a ball on a wheel or the drawing of cards?)
In essence, the law went too far. (And even the SCOTUS dissenters agreed with that. Even I agree with that.) But the reason, so the Court says, is because Congress has not passed legislation to regulate an activity.
In other words, Congress (in the eyes of SCOTUS) apparently has the power to legislate to regulate ANY activity that they please. It wasn’t an “interstate commerce” issue (as they try to claim so much of the time). If it was, the law wouldn’t have applied to betting on the Yankees versus the Mets, or the LA Rams versus the Oakland Raiders. Or Texas A&M versus UT Austin.
Unless, of course, you are a warmongering, nanny-state progressive like FDR and LBJ and all the rest, who believe that it is interstate commerce if Farmer Joe sells a bushel of wheat to Miz Smith who lives a half-mile down the road in not just the same state but same county and township.
Because that is what government does. It becomes more and more totalitarian as time goes by: EVERYTHING is the business of the state. The state must regulate EVERYTHING and nothing is outside their control.
And if you don’t like that, ultimately, the state can rob you blind, throw you into a cell for the rest of your life, torture and harass you to the point of death (and beyond), or just blow your brains out with their guns.