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PASPA part two? Hatch pushes for federal control over sports gambling after SCOTUS loss

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Yesterday, the Supreme Court struck down the law Congress passed 26 years ago that forbade 49 state legislatures from allowing sports gambling. That doesn’t make the issue dead in the water, at least not for one of the original authors of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). Sen. Orrin Hatch plans to use his last year in office creating new legislation that will allow Congress to impose federal regulation of any interstate sports gambling, especially in the online arena, so to speak:

“The problems posed by sports betting are much the same as they were 25 years ago,”Hatch said. “But the rapid rise of the Internet means that sports betting across state lines is now just a click away. We cannot allow this practice to proliferate amid uneven enforcement and a patchwork race to the regulatory bottom. At stake here is the very integrity of sports. That’s why I plan to introduce legislation in the coming weeks to help protect honesty and principle in the athletic arena. I invite stakeholders and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me in addressing this important issue.”

Note that this is quite a bit different than PASPA. The law overturned by the Supreme Court in Murphy v NCAA flat-out prohibited states other than Nevada from legalizing sports gambling — but didn’t ban it, either. That ran afoul of the anti-commandeering principle embodied in the Tenth Amendment, Justice Samuel Alito ruled in his majority opinion. If the federal government wants to ban sports gambling or regulate it directly, Alito suggested, it has the authority to do so, but not to tell state legislatures that it must act in a certain manner absent that federal action.

Can Hatch make the sale on federal control over sports gambling? He will have some powerful allies on his side:

The National Basketball Association and National Football League called for a federal framework that would apply to all states moving forward with sports gambling legislation.

“We remain in favor of a federal framework that would provide a uniform approach to sports gambling in states that choose to permit it, but we will remain active in ongoing discussions with state legislatures,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “Regardless of the particulars of any future sports betting law, the integrity of our game remains our highest priority.”

The NFL said in a statement that it would ask Congress to “enact a core regulatory framework for legalized sports betting.”

Major League Baseball said it would “continue to support legislation that creates air-tight coordination and partnerships between the state, the casino operators and the governing bodies in sports toward that goal.”

The question ahead for members of Congress, and especially for Republicans and conservatives, will be just how much federal control they’re willing to impose. The party and the movement has changed since 1992, I write in my column at The Week, growing more libertarian. There may not be as much appetite for expanding federal control over sporting issues as there was 26 years ago:

In one sense, this ruling should please conservatives. The Supreme Court has not often gone out of its way to strengthen the Tenth Amendment, a key constitutional touchstone for small-government activistsMurphy v. NCAA had already been cited as a potential game-changer for limiting Washington’s power — an antidote to previous expansive precedent on the Commerce Clause, starting with Wickard v. Filburn.

Justice Samuel Alito didn’t upend Wickard or limit the Commerce Clause in his governing opinion. However, he did set a hard limit on Congress’ ability to dictate what state legislatures can and cannot do without enacting a full federal prohibition on an activity, which PASPA avoided. The Constitution allots limited authority to Congress, Alito wrote, but “all other legislative power is reserved for the states, as the Tenth Amendment confirms.” Alito added: “And conspicuously absent from the list of powers given to Congress is the power to issue direct orders to the governments of the states.” …

When he co-wrote PASPA in 1992, Hatch was one of the stronger conservative voices in the upper chamber. At that time, the three-legged stool of the right still prevailed: social conservatism, fiscal discipline, and a strong military. Hatch’s PASPA fell clearly into the first leg, a moral stricture against vice that has the potential to corrupt not just governments but souls.

The world has changed since those days, and so has conservatism. While abortion still occupies its own place in the conservative agenda, the prominence of other social issues has fallen in favor of a more libertarian approach. Younger voters see issues like gambling and recreational use of marijuana as personal choices more than moral or public policy issues. In March, for the first time ever, Gallup found a majority of Republicans in favor of marijuana legalization, noting that “the trajectory of Americans’ views on marijuana is similar to that of their views on same-sex marriage over the past couple of decades.”

In those areas, Republicans have often argued that these issues are best left to the states, not to the federal government. That may be tougher to argue when dealing with online gambling, but states can and do regulate online commerce within their own sovereignties, as tax collections demonstrate. The question will be this: do we really want to expand federal government into more areas of personal choice and/or to act as the guarantor of private industry? The sports leagues seem to have survived for decades well enough with Nevada’s legalized sports betting and lots of illegal sports betting taking place everywhere else, enabled by online communications.

If nothing else, this will set up an interesting debate on the Right over the principles of smaller government, states’ rights, and moral signaling.

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Reps. Meadows and Jordan Lash Out at Rosenstein For Demanding Special “Classified” Format to Testify on Capitol Hill

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Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) lashed out at Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein Friday afternoon over his demands for a special format to testify next week on Capitol Hill.

House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte announced Thursday that Rosenstein will appear on Capitol Hill October 24th for a closed-door, transcribed interview.

Rosenstein is demanding the interview be private and held in a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility) with multiple Republican lawmakers excluded.

Unfortunately only the House Judiciary and Oversight Chairs and ranking members will be present for the grilling.

According to the House Judiciary announcement, only 4 members from the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees will be present:

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) announced Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will appear on October 24, 2018, for a transcribed interview conducted by Chairmen Bob Goodlatte and Trey Gowdy and Ranking Members Jerry Nadler and Elijah Cummings.

JIM JORDAN: Rod Rosenstein wants a SPECIAL format to testify: only 2 Rep and 2 Dem members of Congress asking questions in closed door classified setting.


Another example of the double standard. One set of rules for regular folks, a different set for the politically connected. Unacceptable.

MARK MEADOWS: Rod Rosenstein declines to show up before Congress and then asks for special treatment. He wants his interview to be private, in a SCIF, with multiple members excluded.

There should be NO double standard. Show up and tell the truth under the same conditions as everyone else.

Meadows and Jordan want to ask Rod Rosenstein about his plot to wear a wire and oust Trump from office.

Former FBI lawyer James Baker appeared on Capitol Hill earlier Thursday for the second time to testify about Rosenstein’s plan to wear a wire and and the use of FISA warrants to oust President Trump from office.

Rep. Meadows emerged from the testimony Thursday calling for Rosenstein to “resign immediately.”

This is yet more proof that there is a two-tiered justice system in this country.

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Caravan reaches Mexican border, breaks through fence on Guatemalan side

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The migrant caravan reached the southern border of Mexico Thursday night and NBC News reports some have already crossed the border. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal described the situation along the Mexican border as tense:

Tension was palpable in Ciudad Hidalgo, a tiny tropical village in Mexico surrounded by rain forest and banana plantations that borders Tecun Uman in Guatemala, with the two towns separated by a muddy river. Late Thursday, some 300 Mexican federal police officers equipped with antiriot gear were deployed to the border crossing ahead of the caravan’s expected arrival…

Many migrants marched along the river banks on Thursday afternoon. “Let them know that we are going to cross to Mexico!” shouted a man clad with a cap in front of the crowd.

The border between Mexico and Guatemala (at this location) is the Suchiate River. Here’s what that looks like from the bridge spanning the river:

There are gates on both sides of the bridge to control traffic. Buzzfeed’s Karla Zabs is there covering developments this morning. A short time ago the caravan began massing at the Guatemalan gate:

And that led to a standoff. The AP reports that “young men” eventually tore open the barricade and swarmed onto the bridge:

Migrants in a caravan traveling through Central America have broken down gates at a border crossing and are streaming toward a bridge to Mexico.

After arriving at the tall, yellow metal fence Friday, some clambered atop it and on U.S.-donated military jeeps.

Young men began violently tugging on the barrier and finally succeeded in tearing it down.

Men, women and children then rushed through toward the bridge, about 150 yards (137 meters) away.

This tweet translates as “Bombshell! Thousands of Hondurans manage to enter Mexican territory!”

The Noticias video below helps explain the sequence of events. This is a live stream but you can scroll back. First people were massed at the yellow gates on the Guatemalan side of the bridge. Then they broke through those gates and streamed onto the bridge as seen in that clip above. The migrants made their way to the Mexican side of the bridge and, at first, it appeared the gates were open, but they were pushed closed by police with riot shields.

A shoving match ensued between the police and the migrants trying to re-open the gates. Some migrants are throwing things at the police and the police appear to be using batons to keep people’s hands off the gates. Finally, when the gate is shut, you see some men jumping off the bridge into the water where they swim to a nearby raft.

Stalemate, at least for the moment:

I’ll update this post when the situation changes.

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BREAKING: Nellie Ohr Invokes Marital Privilege Preventing Her From Answering Questions About Talks With Her Husband Bruce Ohr

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Nellie Ohr, wife of twice-demoted DOJ official Bruce Ohr appeared on Capitol Hill Friday to face lawmakers in a closed-door grilling.

Mrs. Ohr was supposed to appear for a deposition last month but she was refusing to cooperate with lawmakers.

Now this…

Nellie Ohr invoked marital privilege on Friday preventing her from answering questions about her husband Bruce Ohr.

MANU RAJU: Very rare bipartisan agreement: Both sides say Nellie Ohr interview has been led to nothing. She invoked marital privilege preventing her from answering qs about talks with her husband. @MarkMeadows sees no reason to bring her back. @CongressmanRaja calls it a “nothing burger”

Rep. Mark Meadows confirmed Nellie Ohr invoked spousal privilege. 

The House Judiciary and House Oversight Committees sought to question Nellie Ohr after her husband Bruce Ohr gave an explosive testimony to Congress.


The former Associate Deputy Attorney General told Congress the FBI knew his wife, Nellie Ohr worked for oppo research firm Fusion GPS yet failed to disclose that information to the FISC [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court].

Nellie Ohr was paid multiple large payments by Fusion GPS, the oppo research firm that commissioned dossier author Christopher Steele.

Mrs. Ohr also previously worked for the CIA and was a corrupt Communist sympathizer who spoke fluent Russian.

This story is still developing…please check back for updates.

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