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The Solicitor General’s office will represent the US government’s position in the case, Christie vs. NCAA, after SCOTUS granted a motion for the SG to take part. That case turns on the legality of New Jersey’s partial repeal of its own sports betting law and the constitutionality of the federal sports wagering ban, PASPA.
The Solicitor General has sided with the plaintiffs — the NCAA, NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB — arguing that NJ runs afoul of PASPA. (This also interestingly puts the administration of President Donald Trump on the same side of the case as the NFL, with which he has feuded in recent months.)
New Jersey has argued PASPA is not constitutional and unlawfully commandeers it to keep its state-level sports betting ban in place.
“You’re talking about the constitutionality of federal law. The involvement of the Department of Justice is a necessary and indispensable party in the court,” attorney and sports law expert Daniel Wallach told Legal Sports Report. “It would be incongruous to have a battle over the validity of the federal law without the federal government in court defending it.”
The SG’s office also told the nation’s highest court not to hear the case before it decided to do so.
You can see the initial motion asking for the SG to participate in oral arguments here.
Noel Francisco was installed as Trump’s SG this summer. He will not necessarily be the one to argue that case, however.
The SG’s office is already appearing in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which takes place Dec. 5, one day after the NJ case. The SG is also asking for time to argue in Rubin v. Iran. which takes place on the same day as NJ.
That means the SG is probably sending different attorneys to each case, and Francisco is unlikely to be the speaking attorney in all of these cases, or even more than one of them.That leaves the possibility of another attorney from the SG’s office representing the Department of Justice in Christie.
The accepted motion from the court also takes away time from the leagues’ lawyer, Paul Clement, who is a veteran of arguing in front of SCOTUS and is considered a gifted attorney when it comes to oral arguments. (He’s also a former Solicitor General.)
The SG gets ten minutes of the 30 minutes allotted to NCAA et al, taking Clement down to 20 minutes of speaking time.
“It could be very helpful for New Jersey, because the less time Paul Clement gets up there to talk, the better it is for them,” Wallach said.