Last week the justices added a whopping 16 new cases to their merits docket when they issued orders from the January 13 conference. When the justices returned from the holiday weekend this morning, they issued more orders from that conference, including a call for the views of the U.S. solicitor general in a pair of related cases, but did not grant any new cases.
The invitation to the federal government to file a brief came in Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association and New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association v. National Collegiate Athletic Association. The two cases have their roots in a federal law, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which pre-empts state efforts to regulate sports betting. After the New Jersey legislature passed a law that would allow sports betting in casinos and racetracks in the state, professional sports leagues and the NCAA filed a lawsuit, arguing that the state law runs afoul of the PASPA. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and a horseracing group that operates a racetrack in the state counter that the PASPA unconstitutionally “commandeers” the state’s regulatory power. There is no deadline for the federal government to submit its brief, which will almost certainly be filed by the new solicitor general (or acting solicitor general) in the Trump administration. If the Supreme Court were to grant review, the case would likely be argued next term, at which point the court is likely to have a ninth justice.
The court did not act on the challenge to a Texas law that requires voters to present specific forms of government-issued photo IDs to cast a ballot. The justices had first considered the petition for review at their January 6 conference and then relisted the case for further consideration at their January 13 conference.