What Supreme Court Justices Voted Against Sports Betting?

The issue of whether or not to permit sports betting in the United States is once again at the forefront in the news. The recent SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) ruling on the Professional Sports leagues’ (MLB, NFL, and NCAA) challenge to the constitutionality of the federal Wire Act has breathed new life into the long-stalled efforts to legalize sports betting in the country. In striking down the Wire Act, the Supreme Court justices have granted states the right to legalize sports betting. However, as you might imagine, this does not mean that all bets are legal or that every single franchise or event or incident or play or game will be settled using money from legitimate casinos or betting agencies.

Many people will be surprised to learn that just five justices out of the nine-member court voted to allow states to implement and regulate sports betting. This means that not only is the current status quo in place regarding the federal government’s stance on sports betting, but it also leaves the door open for states to pass legislation permitting and regulating sports betting practices. For a more in-depth look at the case, you can check out our in-depth report on the subject.

Which Justices Were Most Affected By This Issue?

The justices who wrote the majority opinion are very much in favor of permitting states to regulate sports betting. This makes sense considering that most states already have laws regarding the matter. While the Supreme Court’s decision makes no mention of state laws, it is implied that they exist and that these laws should be given deference.

On the other hand, the dissenters strongly opposed allowing states to regulate sports betting, with Ruth Bader Ginsburg writing, “I see nothing in this majority opinion—either explicitly or implicitly—that promises to protect the States’ regulatory interests. On the contrary, what this opinion promises to do is set up a system where the States cannot protect their citizens’ health, safety, and welfare.”

It is important to keep in mind that this was essentially a 4-3 vote. With Justice Anthony Kennedy as the swing vote, it would have been difficult for the court to rule in favor of keeping the status quo in regards to sports betting, even if he had sided with the conservatives. This means that the issue of sports betting is once again at the forefront of American politics, with state governments across the country having the ability to legalize and regulate the practice.

Are There Any Predictions On The Size Of The Impact?

With the exception of the late, great Chief Justice William Rehnquist, no other justice has ever been as influential as William O’Connor. This is especially true when it comes to issues surrounding the court and the law. It is therefore not a great leap to predict that O’Connor will have the greatest impact on the issue of sports betting.

As already mentioned, five justices voted to overturn the Wire Act. In the majority opinion, O’Connor wrote, “For more than a century, Congress has regulated sports gambling, and over this period the understanding of what the statute means and what it precludes has become clearer.” He continued, “[O]ne of the dominant themes that emerge from the cases in which this court is asked to rule on the constitutionality of a statute regulating sports gambling is that the statute is out of step with modern understanding and practice. It was drafted long ago, before the advent of the internet and the ability to follow a game live, and it must be adjusted to fit the times in which we live. A statute that prohibits betting on sporting events that you can watch on television does not pass constitutional muster.”

What this means is that as the court has grown more accustomed to following games live on television, it has become apparent that the Wire Act does not take into consideration this development. While the dissenters would still maintain that the law is unconstitutional, the court as an institution has shifted to the left on this issue, with the potential to legalize and regulate sports betting in the United States.

More On The Politics Of This

The politics of this ruling are perhaps its most interesting aspect, given that it was a fairly even 4-4 vote. The court as an institution has shifted to the left on a wide variety of issues, which you might imagine is the case considering that President Trump appointed four justices to the court. The fact that the justices were able to come down on either side of this issue shows just how great a political force Justice O’Connor really was.

Justice Clarence Thomas, in particular, is known for being extremely conservative, though he has shown a willingness to rule in favor of the government in certain scenarios. It is therefore reasonable to assume that he would have voted in favor of keeping sports betting illegal, though his vote is not known at this point. However, Thomas was the only one of the court’s more junior members to vote, so it is quite possible that he was simply following the lead of his four senior colleagues. Nevertheless, this is still quite the political earthquake, as evidenced by the fact that Congress has already begun work on legislation to overturn the court’s decision and prevent the implementation of state laws regarding sports betting.

What Next?

The impact of this ruling is undoubtedly great, especially considering the fact that Congress has begun work to prevent the implementation of state laws regarding sports betting. The issue is once again at the forefront of American politics, with the ability to legalize and regulate sports betting being granted to the states by way of a constitutional amendment. It will be interesting to see how this ruling shakes out, as it is quite possible that the court may once again be asked to rule on this matter in the near future.