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Commentary: Mr. Sessions – Don’t Undermine the Tenth Amendment

 

Will Attorney General Jeff Sessions singlehandedly undercut President Trump’s efforts to drain the swamp?

That is the question that political observers in Washington are asking as rumors swirl that Mr. Sessions is considering a request by lobbyists representing Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson to overturn state laws as they pertain to online gaming. Such a move would not only be cronyism of the highest magnitude, but would undermine the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution.

Gambling is a contentious issue, but like most contentious issues the Framers of the Constitution relied on Federalism to settle difficult questions. As such, gambling laws have been the prerogative of the states since the founding of the Constitution. Some states allow gambling and others do not. Nevada, for instance, not only has casinos but also allows citizens within their borders to participate in online games of change. Some states, like Utah, do not even have a lottery. Some states. like Georgia, allow citizens to buy lottery tickets online. Other states do not. That is exactly how the Founders envisioned things.

However, for crony capitalists looking to limit potential competition, online gaming presents a problem. Fearing that people won’t travel to Las Vegas to gamble, casino owner Sheldon Adelson is conducting one-man multi-million-dollar campaign to overturn state laws and he wants the federal government to do his bidding.

His congressional allies have introduced the Restore America’s Wire Act (RAWA) bill that would overturn existing state laws and bar other states from legalizing online gaming.  The bill has languished in Congress, but he has sensed an opportunity and he is now playing a new hand.

Word on the street suggests that Adelson has made progress at the Department of Justice (DOJ) in their campaign to have the Department re-interpret the Wire Act. Such a change would pull the rug out from states that have legalized online gaming and prohibit other states from passing similar measures. Reinterpretation would also prohibit the online sales of lottery tickets.

Such a move would be a political disaster for the President. It is no secret that Adelson is a major funder of the Republican Party. He also was a contributor to the Trump inauguration and supported outside groups that helped defeat Hillary Clinton. Giving Adelson what he wants on a platter would give opponents of the president more ammunition to shoot.

States are more than capable of dealing with issues like gambling on their own. They don’t need the heavy hand of Washington telling them how to do things. Mr. Sessions took an oath to the Constitution. Gutting the Tenth Amendment undermines that promise.

Finally, in the Garden State, it has been estimated that 3,000 jobs have been created since the state legalized online gaming. Prohibiting New Jersey from determining their own economic future would send workers directly to the unemployment line. President Trump said a core benefit of his presidency would be “jobs, jobs and jobs.” Destroying an American industry would run counter to the values of the Trump presidency.

Mr. Sessions would be prudent to leave well enough alone.


Cloakroom Confidential

Cloakroom Confidential

Cloakroom Confidential was a longtime Capitol Hill staffer and insider who has contacts in the House and Senate at the highest levels.

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