New Jersey Senate Shows Where Its Priorities Lie in Veto Override

“I ask, Who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers.” – George Mason

This Thursday, October 23, the Democrats in the New Jersey Senate managed to get three Republicans (Christopher Connors, Joseph Kyrillos and Christopher “Kip” Bateman) to vote with them in favor of overriding Governor Christie’s veto of a gun control bill, S2360. It was the first time in Chris Christie’s tenure as governor that either house has successfully voted to override a veto. The override vote now goes to the Assembly.

Unlike the usual incorporationist arguments that both left and right are guilty of using, no honest reading of the Constitution can claim that the New Jersey state government is violating the Second Amendment, as the Bill of Rights was never intended to apply to the state or local governments. It can certainly be argued that any state with as stringent gun control as New Jersey is shooting itself in the foot by effectively disarming its populace (i.e. its militia).

In light of the Democrats’ quickness to act in response to the governor’s veto, and three Republicans’ willingness to break ranks with Christie now, it’s worth it to ask, why not sooner, on another issue? Less than two years ago, a bill that would have set forth common sense limitations on drone use by law enforcement, including a ban on anti-personnel devices on drones. The legislation had passed both houses of the legislature with near unanimous bipartisan support, but late enough in the legislative session that Governor Christie was able to pocket veto it, preventing an override vote. The legislation was reintroduced in the 2014-2015 legislative session and passed the Assembly as A1039 in May of this year. The identical Senate bill, S2310, did not even get a committee vote, much less make it to the floor.

Senators, why the wait? Why the delay when that bill had more support in the legislature and the populace than yet another gun control bill? Even if the Senate took up the bill now, it might not get through to Governor Christie’s desk in time to have a chance of avoiding yet another pocket veto. For the most part, this won’t be a campaign issue for most New Jersey voters in less than two weeks. Incumbents will likely have a higher reelection rate than Congress, and the Senate is not up for reelection anyway. For the many incumbents, and for the few newcomers lucky enough to get in, this needs to be an issue that is in their ears from the moment the next Assembly takes office.


New Jersey To Pull Out Of Common Core

According to the latest from Time, Governor Chris Christie “is pulling his state out of the Common Core education standards, bowing to pressure from teachers and parents, as well as conservative fears about government overreach.” The governor, who is also a potential presidential candidate in 2016, began a review of the standards a year ago.

As 2016 nears, and Republicans increasingly need to appeal to conservatives, potential presidential candidates will need to distance themselves from the controversial educational standards. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Ohio Governor John Kasich, who both initially endorsed the plan, are backpedaling on it. Jindal is suing the US Department of Education for “coercing” the states. Kasich defends his participation while carefully avoiding calling it by name.

Whatever the reasons that Republicans are running from Common Core, regardless of whether our governor is distancing himself from Common Core for the right or the wrong reasons, he did the right thing. Contact the governor and thank him for doing the right thing for New Jersey.

Chris Christie’s NSA Comments Should Concern Us Now

The Republican field of presidential candidates, with only a year and a half left until the 2016 presidential election, appears to be expanding at a rate not seen since the Big Bang. For the most part, they are the typical statist war party they have been. Lindsey Graham, ignoring the warnings from the Syrian people to his master, Senator McCain, funded rebels with ties to al Qaeda and now ISIS. Now, he has the gall to tell us the consequences of joining ISIS. Perhaps he should send that drone after himself. To New Jerseyans, the authoritarian comments that should concern us the most came from Governor Chris Christie himself.

The governor had some strong words for those who oppose the NSA’s massive domestic spying program. Christie referred to Edward Snowden as a criminal, despite Snowden not having received the benefit of a trial by jury to convict or even accuse him of anything. Christie went on to dismiss the fears of the opposition as “baloney.” When a state’s chief executive is that indifferent to the concerns about federal overreach, one has to wonder what his agenda is. This is the same governor who pocket vetoed a bill limiting drone usage at the end of the 2012-13 legislative session (one of the few good ones that passed), a bill that passed with single digit opposition in both houses of the legislature. This is a former US attorney, who is still eyeing a possible run at the White House. Where do his loyalties lie?

We have already had legitimate concerns about indefinite detention in our state completely unrelated to the 2012 NDAA. We already have some of the strictest gun control in the country, and we have reelected people to the US Senate literally until their death who were just waiting for the excuse to add more restrictions from DC. Our governor has said he would “crack down on legal weed.” If you think he’s only talking about Colorado and Washington, think again. When it comes to protecting our rights, Governor Christie has more interest in what DC says, no matter how tyrannical the action, that he does in the will of the people of this state.

One can only guess at his motives. Perhaps, even without a White House run, he is looking to position himself for federal employment again. A nullifying governor would not be the first candidate a new president, Republican or Democrat, would consider for that post. Whatever the reason, while we have a governor who is a willing part of the state machine that helps enforce federal dictates, the fact that he holds these views should be a cause of grave concern to the people of New Jersey. Issues like this need to be a part of the debate in the often ignored midterm legislative elections this year. To the greatest extent possible, we need to keep the pressure on the governor and legislature to change their course. If we do nothing, or worse, trust in the 2016 elections to change things, then our liberty will continue to dwindle.

A Little Fuel for Nullifiers

As pointed out many times before, New Jersey is well behind other states in terms of nullification efforts. This often leaves Tenthers in our state with a case of nullification envy. The way our state government looks for more ways to control us, in addition to being a willing assistant to the central government, certainly adds to that frustration. And yet, there exist individuals willing to show that no matter how many laws upon laws DC and Trenton add to the books, there is only so much either can do to enforce them. Take, for instance, the simple task of pumping your own gas.

A little personal experience, having grown up on Long Island, as soon as I had my learner’s permit, one of the necessary skills I learned as a driver was that of pumping gas. It was as essential as signaling my turns, using the accelerator and brake, steering or proper positioning of my rear view mirrors. It wasn’t rocket science or anything like that. My second youngest is, assuming no change in eligibility ages in New Jersey, just about 10 years away from being able to get his license, and I could teach him these skills, if my state would let me.

You see, for those reading who are not New Jerseyans, our state government does not trust us to be able to grab a hose, stick it in a hole in the side of our car, squeeze a handle and wait until either the amount of gas we’ve purchased has been dispensed, or the tank is full. This was an adaptation for me when dating and eventually marrying a Jersey girl and moving to this state. In New York, I could go to stations with a pay at the pump and purchase gas when the station was closed, which was great after a late night. I also learned not to do stupid things like talk on a cell phone (ok, that came later when I could actually afford one) or smoke (which I don’t do anyway) while pumping gas. In general people who did those things earned anything from a death glare to a verbal dressing down, which in New York, can be pretty harsh. In New Jersey, I regularly come across attendants chatting away on their phones right next to signs saying not to talk on their phones. I also had an experience with my current car, where the sensor could sometimes cause the pump to stop fueling before the tank was full. Impatient, rude attendants have sometimes refused to inconvenience themselves and finish pumping the rest of the amount I requested. If I could pump my own, they wouldn’t have to deal with that, and I would have to deal with them. That said, how often do people get caught pumping their own gas in New Jersey?

According to Larry Higgs at, it is exceedingly rare for New Jersey government officials to catch someone pumping his or her own gas. I’ll even confess, I did it once when a station was closed but had a pay at the pump. I saw someone else do it, needed gas myself, and I paid for it. “The state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, which has the job of enforcing all aspects of the state full service gas law, hasn’t issued a ticket in the last two years to an over-anxious driver who pumped their own gas,” the article says.

To get ticketed, a driver would literally have to start pumping gas under the nose of a state official, who is there checking for other violations. Even then, the station owner or attendant usually is cited for not stopping the customer.

People at the individual level are already nullifying this out of date law, and getting away with it. If Trenton cannot enforce this law, which is supposedly so essential for our safety, how can they hope to enforce federal laws on guns, drugs and other overreach? In Oregon, there is already a bill that could at least ease their restrictions on self serve, leaving New Jersey as the only state with an outright ban on the practice. To the New Jersey Legislature and the Governor, you have two options. You can either ride with the nullifiers, stop trying to control us and work with us against those in DC attempting to do the same, or you can continue to be on the losing side of those who insist on the impossible task of micromanaging us. Get yourselves out of our everyday lives, and then help us in getting DC out of them, too.

Conflicting Laws Regarding Medicinal Marijuana

“It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.” – James Madison

It should be obvious to one on either side of the nullification issue that unless the federal government repeals a law a state is actively nullifying, there will be a conflict between state and federal laws on the books. When a federal act is unjust, then state law conflicting with it is a good thing. The major problem arises when two acts at the same level of government conflict, especially when that level of government tries to use both to harass a person. Such was the case for David Knowlton, cofounder of Compassionate Care Foundation Dispensary in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, who found himself unable to find representation against the National Labor Relations Board, which was hearing a case on behalf of workers at the dispensary who wanted to unionize. The reason for lawyers’ refusal to represent him? New Jersey attorneys could face loss of their license for advising or assisting clients engaging in “conduct a lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent.”

“It’s a difficult position to be in,” said Knowlton, who is also CEO for a health policy think tank, the Health Care Quality Institute of New Jersey. “I am used to being in a world where everyone knows what the rules are — you have a right to counsel, a hearing and due process — and it is being cast aside because the state and the feds can’t agree.” Forget the state and the feds agreeing. What about the feds agreeing with themselves? This case looks like little more than a case of the gotcha game, with one part of the federal government coming after a medical marijuana provider for engaging in an activity they consider illegal, and the other coming after the same medical marijuana provider for resisting letting workers in that same illegal activity unionize. Thankfully, the case has since been dropped, as some of the workers who spearheaded the lawsuit have since quit. This would have been the first intervention by the labor board on behalf of cannabis workers, according to Mark E. Belland, attorney for Local 152 of United Food and Commercial Workers, a union whose Cannabis Workers Rising initiative has organized workers in five states and the District of Columbia. One must wonder if Mr. Belland had any of the same concerns as attorneys who declined to represent Mr. Knowlton. After all, what’s good for the goose ought to be good for the gander.

For the question of the legal ethics and licensing, which is handled at the state level, the answer should be simple. If something is legal at the state level, even if the federal government says otherwise, then an attorney should not have to fear reprisals for advising a client according to state law. Other states have begun to rewrite their rules for attorneys to be able to represent marijuana dispensaries as long as they are in “strict compliance with state law.” The New Jersey Bar Association needs to start looking at the same. In addition to these necessary changes, perhaps the New Jersey Legislature could give a little push by making it easier to sue attorneys who deny them representation when there is no conflict with state laws. Unless and until this happens, these issues should involve fighting fire with fire. If the unions feel like putting a business owner in a situation where he is forced to represent himself, they ought to be forced to play by the same rules and not have the privilege of an attorney either, and lawyers such as Belland should feel the same heat for representing workers involved in a so-called “illegal activity.”

While some of the ideas brought up have the potential to be divisive, there exists an opportunity for unity if different parties stop and take a look at who the real enemy is. Labor, businesses, attorneys, all at each other’s throats in a way that allows the national government to take on more power does not serve anyone well in the long run. They all have the right to present their different sides of their disagreements and to work among themselves for a satisfactory resolution without interference from a government who has no interest except more control over all involved.

Farmer Reaps What He Sows

There is a constitutional inconsistency and hypocrisy among party loyalists that has been pointed out enough times that it should be obvious to the average American. Still, fresh occurrences of it pop up often enough that it should be equally obvious we are trapped in it. That party loyalty translates into playing the “federal supremacy” card when the federal government does something one side likes. While the Republican side is guilty of this whenever a federal court, particularly the Supreme Court, declares a state law “unconstitutional” concerning gun control or religious freedom issues, today’s glaring case will be Star-Ledger opinion writer John Farmer, a true blue Democrat who loves to paint his opponents as neo-confederates whenever they support nullification.

Farmer’s latest piece deals with a judge in Alabama who is refusing to abide by the federal court’s decision overturning the state’s constitutional definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman. The real debate should be over what place any level of government has “licensing” marriage, but especially the federal government. That, however, is an argument for another day. Farmer quotes the typical playbook of the usual anti-nullifiers, lumping the words “nullification” and “interposition” in with Jim Crow and slavery. Yes, the federal government, via its infallible, black robed demigods, has handed down the divine word on many issues, and we lowly peons are unfit to dare criticize them for it.

There are still some voices critical of the Supreme Court and their tendency to act not as an impartial interpreter of the law within the confines of the Constitution, but as an instrument of partisanship. It is good to point out when the Supreme Court and the rest of the federal judiciary betray a bias toward one party or the other. Take, for example, an opinion piece from October by John Farmer about the Citizens United case. Wait a minute. Was that the same John Farmer? Oh, how embarrassing.

You see, Mr. Farmer, when you and your side use the court system to force your party’s agenda on those who do not consent, don’t be surprised when your opponents learn the same tactics and do the same to you. Don’t be surprised if, along the way, you also alienate some of your friends who don’t pay the same level of homage as you to the centralizers in DC. There are a number of Democrats in the New Jersey legislature working hard at the state level to resist the War on Drugs, upheld by the Supreme Court in 2005, drone surveillance, militarization of our police and a host of other federal actions many self described Democrats, liberals or progressives would find reprehensible. Much like Howard Dean’s remarks about Governor Scott Walker’s lack of a college degree could be applied to ten of our Democratic state legislators, including Senate President Steve Sweeney, your smear of any and all nullifiers could alienate you from those of your party who are trying to do the right thing by resisting federal tyranny. You may want to consider that briefly before clicking submit on your next editorial.

Marijuana Laws in New Jersey

While checking the New Jersey Legislature’s calendar for this week and next, there were no upcoming bills scheduled for votes, whether in the full Senate or Assembly, or in any committees, of much interest to the nullification movement in general. That could change, given the lack of any information yet for today’s Senate session, although that is likely due to the greater focus on today’s State of the State address. The lull does give us an opportunity to highlight some bills worth consideration. New Jersey Tenth Amendment Center hopes to bring attention to several different issues throughout the course of this month and next.

There are several medical marijuana bills, as well as one regarding general use, currently in nowhere land since their introductions last year. While these would be unlikely to survive a Governor Christie veto, it might take years to get enough votes to have to worry about that, at which time a new governor might be in place.

A1129 extends “Right to Farm” protections to cultivation or production of medical marijuana for medical use, permits such activity on preserved farmland and prohibits county or municipal interference with such activity.

A1374 and S389 permit qualifying patients to possess and use medical marijuana obtained from other jurisdictions, extend state medical marijuana laws to qualifying out-of-state patients and expand the ability of parents to serve as primary caregiver to minor children.

A2845 and S1169 require a registered, qualifying patient’s authorized use of medical marijuana to be considered equivalent to use of any other prescribed medication.

A3438 prohibits employers from taking adverse action based on authorized use of medical marijuana. There is currently no equivalent bill in the Senate.

A3094 and S1896 legalize possession and personal use of small amounts of marijuana for persons age 21 and over.

So far, beyond their introductions in the first half of last year, no further action has occurred for any of these bills. Contact your state legislators and tell them, especially in what is an election year for them, that you will be watching their actions carefully regarding the above legislation.

Starting Over Again: Planting and Harvesting

As the nullification movement has grown across the United States, it has become customary for Tenth Amendment Center founder Michael Boldin to share some valuable gems at the end of the year on our main page. One is a reprint of a beautiful letter from former Libertarian Party presidential candidate and co-founder of DownsizeDC, Harry Browne. The other is usually a commentary on the state of the nullification movement and a request for help in the coming year. So much has happened in the past year across so many states, but it didn’t begin this year. There were many starting points for the nullification movement, although the most recent could be thought of as 2006, when a humble blogger set up a website to enlighten people about the abuses of an out of control central government.

The Tenth Amendment Center, through Michael Boldin’s diligent planting, cultivation and harvesting of seeds of liberty, has grown. It has attracted like minded people, who have taken a small portion of those seeds and done the same. I’m ashamed to admit I don’t remember where and when I received this particular seed, whether in a blog entry or in an old Tenther Radio episode, but Michael shared the story of driving a friend to pick up a prescription. The prescribed drug? Marijuana. I can’t remember the exact story, but to hear someone who, according to Tom Woods, has done more than “anyone in the world” to advance nullification describe his reaction as, “But that’s illegal,” shows what a change in mindset is often needed to understand nullification. I went through my own changes over time in my political beliefs.

In early 2009, three years after the founding of the Tenth Amendment Center, but before I had heard of nullification, I was disillusioned. I always held a deep disgust in my heart for all but perhaps a few local Democrats whose names I had heard. As a registered Republican, I believed in the principles of limited government many of them preached, but found they were just as much about big government as the Democrats as soon as the Wednesday after the first Monday of November of an even numbered year arrived. Aside from some of the ideas I heard from third parties, I had begun to hear of “state sovereignty resolutions” being introduced in nearly three dozen states. My first thought was, “Wow! They’re all going to secede, and the union will break up!” The idea both scared and fascinated me. I had, and still have, a great love for the United States, and yet, the United States originated from thirteen colonies that unanimously voted to secede from Great Britain. I began to follow a Ning Page for a group called States Stand for Constitutional Sovereignty. Not seeing anything in the way of a New Jersey group, I began to make commentary on my YouTube channel that, in retrospect, seems rather unenlightened about nullification, but it was enough to catch the attention of the Tenth Amendment Center. Through a little back and forth contact, I was asked if I would like to contribute in any way. Over time, I became involved as a contributing blogger.

For the most part, I did not see myself as a leader. I had hoped to blend in as a low profile foot soldier in some movement and let someone else do the leading. I was tentative at first, and shocked at the good feedback from others in the Tenther community. I was not, and still am not, a state coordinator, but I enjoyed promoting nullification in the Garden State, writing about the rare bill that was worthy of attention, and I must admit, even the occasional showdown with other voices in the state ranging from Tea Party leaders to editorial board members of the Star-Ledger. I didn’t want to admit it, but I was becoming a leader. I even dared take on my dread fear of public speaking, questioning Governor Christie publicly and giving a talk for the Tea Party of Middlesex County.

Things seemed to be growing, slowly but surely, when we dropped off the map. We lost our coordinators, and I can say from personal experience that many friends in the liberty movement here either moved or have plans to move out of New Jersey. I allowed those events to discourage me. It has been said that a true leader does not create followers, but rather, inspires others to become leaders. As the only somewhat active name in the New Jersey Tenth Amendment Center, I haven’t done that. Despite that, good things have happened this year that can increase with a renewal of efforts in the coming year. Sports betting has passed. Despite Governor Christie’s pocket veto of last year’s drone limitation bill, the issue has not gone away, and there are some in the legislature still fighting for passage of similar legislation. The legislature and the governor, while having some differences, have worked for protections of reader privacy. The red light camera program has expired. In some counties, opposition to police militarization via the Pentagon’s 1033 program is beginning to gain publicity, and a bill was even introduced in the Assembly and Senate requiring the approval of the local governing body for police departments to receive equipment through the program.

What I am saying is, I have not been the best leader this chapter could have, and I apologize. I would, however, like to start over. I have neglected this field, and need to get back to planting. I will do what I can, but one person can only do so much, so I hope others will consider getting involved. Perhaps you have experience organizing. Coming from a disorganized person such as myself, NJ TAC needs you! Maybe you have contacts in the Assembly, Senate, a Board of Freeholders or a City/Township/Borough Council. We don’t have a lot of that now; it would be great to have you. If you were involved before, dropped out, and you’re not sure you’ll be accepted back, all I can say is who am I to judge? Perhaps, like me almost six years ago, you have no idea what to do, but you want to help. If you express an interest, there will never be a shortage of work to do. You’ll find yourself doing things you never imagined.

To get involved, just go to

Thank you in advance, and Happy New Year from the New Jersey Tenth Amendment Center!

Blame Media for Lack of Understanding of the Founding Fathers

“A democracy, ma’am, if you can keep it,” said Benjamin Franklin never.  Yet that is what many in the media, such as Tom Moran at, would have you believe.  In his latest opinion column, Moran refers to “universal reverence for our Founding Fathers” as the “secular religion” of the United States.  I can name two more, perhaps three on a technicality: The United Church of Democracy and the Party Above All Congregation, the latter currently in schism over minor theological technicalities.

This devotee of democracy and the Democratic Party begins with what has become the stale argument against their demon known as the Constitution:

The problem is that all states, big or small, get the same two seats in the Senate. That gives a nearly vacant state like Wyoming the same heft as California or New York. It gives a voter in Cheyenne 66 times more power than a voter in San Francisco in shaping the Senate.

The first statement shows the ignorance or indifference to the fact that in the compound republic the founders, imperfect but wise men, gave us, that was the whole purpose of the Senate, the Constitution and its predecessor, the Articles of Confederation.  The founders knew the dangers of consolidated power and tried to protect against this.  We hear more about the checks and balances in terms of what one branch can do to limit the powers of the other two.  The Senate, however, was intended to protect both against the tyranny of a government unaccountable to the home constituents and against the fickle, emotional whims of the majority.  Each separate state had an equal say in the Senate, and each Senator was accountable to the state legislature at home.  If the Senator acted against the interests and autonomy of the home state, the state legislature could recall him and choose another.

As for the second statement, what gives a voter in Cheyenne allegedly 66 times more power than a voter in San Francisco is a pesky, hyper-democratic addition to our Constitution known as the 17th Amendment, which called for the popular election of Senators.  With that amendment, no longer were de facto ambassadors to the federal government from their states, but people who could make flowery promises to the masses, get elected, consolidate more power and confirm judges who would uphold this central power grab.  Look at us now if you don’t agree, and try to argue that our government is less centralized and more accountable than it was a century ago.  No one logically can.

While New Jersey has the 11th highest population of any state in the union, it was not always so.  In the early days, New Jersey was actually one of the less populous states responsible for the creation of the Senate, as Moran points out:

According to a Gallup poll after the 2012 elections, the five most red states in the country were Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, North Dakota, and Alaska.

Their combined population is less than New Jersey’s. But they get 10 seats in the Senate, while we get just two. And nine of their 10 seats are held by Republicans.

Quoting Professor Sanford Levinson’s book, “Our Undemocratic Constitution,” he goes on:

“We are stuck with that because James Madison submitted to the extortion of Delaware, and probably New Jersey, for equal representation,” Levinson says. “The alternative is they would have probably walked and there would be no Constitution. But it is indefensible in any 21st century notion of democratic governance.”

New Jersey used to have this same problem. Until 1965, each of the 21 counties elected one senator, regardless of the county’s population. Cape May has roughly one-tenth as many people as Bergen. Does any sane person believe they should have the same heft in the state Senate?

New Jersey, at least, was able to change that archaic rule once the U.S. Supreme Court struck it down as undemocratic. The problem is that the high court lacks the authority to change the federal Constitution and fix precisely the same problem in the U.S. Senate.

The irony here is that Moran praises nine unelected, distant, unaccountable, black-robed oligarchs for imposing more democratic measures on New Jersey, overriding our state constitution in order to do so.  Isn’t it somewhat undemocratic to have a Supreme Court at all, one which claims the authority to override, on rare occasions, legislation that our elected officials in both houses passed?  If New Jersey had refused to comply with the Supreme Court, as is their right under the 10th Amendment, perhaps it would have been a good idea to use military force, sending the national guard in to “impose” democracy on us New Jerseyans, much like Republicans have done in Afghanistan, Iraq and the South.

Moran would love to see the Constitution become easier to amend, as he does not hesitate to express:

Before even putting the question to the states, the change would have to be proposed by a Constitutional convention or by a two-thirds vote of both the Senate and House. Washington hasn’t seen that kind of unity of purpose since Nikita Khrushchev was banging his shoe on a United Nations podium and threatening to bury us.

Not that the United Nations has been any sort of a success by any standard, but maybe it would be better if the countries had voting rights based on population size.  After all, why should those smaller nations have just as much say as America?  Plus, with the break up of the Soviet Union over two decades ago, our representation could easily outvote any Russian delegation and stop Putin in his tracks.

The last item Moran brings up is the issue of gerrymandering.  Yes, because Democrats would never resort to gerrymandering in our state legislative districts.  That couldn’t be the reason our state officials have an even higher reelection rate than those in Congress.  If the Democrats control Congress in 2020, there will be just as much gerrymandering, just in a different way.  Somehow, one might suspect the contributors at will not be as vocal about that problem then.

In a democracy, there is the tendency too often for those in the majority to impose their will on the minority.  The founders knew this, and wanted to prevent this.  When the Democrats were in the minority during the Bush presidency, they knew it was dangerous to live under a government whose modus operandi was “majority rules,” and they had some wise words to share in this regard.  However, if Mr. Moran still believes democracy is the way to go, I’d like to invite him to lunch sometime to discuss it.

Against the Odds, Sports Betting Passes – S2460

After years of duking it out in the courts, an unnecessary veto and promises of an override, Governor Christie has signed into law in New Jersey a bill ending state prohibition of sports betting.  S2460/A3711 passed both houses of the New Jersey Legislature easily and received Governor Christie’s signature Friday, October 17.

The bill, while not quite an override of the governor’s veto of S2250, retains the general approach of the original legislation.  Those who drafted the legislation included a provision still retaining a ban on gambling by individuals under 21.  The legislative statement also includes language from the Third Court of Appeals in its rationale for passing the bill:

This bill is in response to the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (the Court) in National Collegiate Athletic Association, et al. v. Governor of the State of New Jersey, et al., C.A. No. 13-1713, 1714, 1715, dated September 17, 2013, wherein the Court in interpreting the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), 28 U.S.C. § 3701 et seq., stated that it does “not read PASPA to prohibit New Jersey from repealing its ban on sports wagering.”  Third Circuit Decision at 73.  The Court further stated that “it is left up to each state to decide how much of a law enforcement priority it wants to make of sports gambling, or what the exact contours of the prohibition will be.”  Decision at 78-79 (emphasis added).  Moreover, the United States in its brief submitted to the Supreme Court of the United States in opposition to petitions for writs of certiorari in the above-referenced case wrote that “PASPA does not even obligate New Jersey to leave in place the state-law prohibitions against sports gambling that it had chosen to adopt prior to PASPA’s enactment.  To the contrary, New Jersey is free to repeal those prohibitions in whole or in part.”  United States Brief to the Supreme Court in Opposition to Petitions for Writs of Certiorari, dated May 14, 2014, at 11 (emphasis added).

Accordingly, under this bill, New Jersey would decide that its “exact contours of the prohibition” against sports wagering should be to repeal New Jersey’s prohibitions against sports wagering “at casinos or gambling houses in Atlantic City or at current running and harness horse racetracks in this State.”

Hopefully, this new law in New Jersey puts this issue to bed and allows Trenton to focus on bigger issues, albeit with the same approach consistent with the anti-commandeering doctrine.  Could our state legislature and governor actually thwart federal tyranny by simply refusing to use state and local employees to enforce their acts?  I’d bet money on it!