Christie v. NCAA and Lund v. Rowan County threaten to bring gambling and religious freedom regulations to South Carolina.

The United States Supreme Court has heard or will shortly hear several cases that have major implications for South Carolina. Several South Carolinians – including Palmetto Family – have stepped up to the challenge, though, to make sure biblical values are accounted for. Here’s what you need to know.

State-Sponsored Gambling Making a Comeback?

On December 4th, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that could have far-reaching negative consequences for gambling policy. The case, Christie v. NCAA, addresses the constitutionality of a federal law that prohibits states from sanctioning commercialized gambling on amateur or professional sporting events.

Passed by Congress in 1992, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) prohibits states from legalizing state-sponsored sports betting. Congress made an exception for four states – Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon – where sports gambling was already legal in state casinos. An exception was also made for New Jersey if the state chose to implement sports betting within one year of PASPA taking effect, which it did not.

In 2010, New Jersey changed its mind and decided to pursue legalizing sports gambling. Following several years of legal dancing, the Supreme Court elected to take up the case pitting Chris Christie and the Garden State against the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and NCAA (the Justice Department later joined the leagues).

Parsing out the nitty gritty legal arguments or deciding the merits of those arguments are beyond the scope of this article. Instead, focusing on the negative effects of legalized, state-sponsored sports gambling is of more value. As Palmetto Family has said for years, state-sponsored gambling is predatory gambling in its most heinous form. Good policies are pro-family, and pro-gambling policy is certainly not pro-family.

Palmetto Family joined a diverse coalition from across the country and the political spectrum as co-signers to an amicus brief arguing against legalizing state-sponsored sports betting. The brief explains that state-sanctioned gambling:

  • uses unfair and deceptive marketing practices to target and prey on the financially desperate and the addicted;
  • reduces opportunity for millions of American families to improve their economic standing;
  • and forces even those citizens who rarely or never gamble to foot the bill for the enormous social costs and state budget problems it leaves behind.

Do Elected Officials have the Right to Pray before Public Meetings?

Twenty South Carolina state legislators believe they and all other public officials have the right to open public meetings in prayer. The South Carolina legislators agreed to sign an amicus brief asking the United States Supreme Court to uphold a North Carolina county’s policy allowing its officials to pray before public meetings.

The practice of opening public meetings with prayer pre-dates the founding of the United States. In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the value of this practice in Town of Greece v. Galloway when it said that the “government must permit a prayer giver to address his or her own God or gods as conscience dictates.”

But the freedom of legislators to open public meetings in prayer is now in jeopardy. Earlier this year, in Lund v. Rowan County, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that elected officials must be silent for the opening prayer or censor their prayers to not make distinctive references to their personal faith.

In September, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit came to the opposite conclusion and found that elected officials are free to openly pray consistent with their personal beliefs to begin public meetings, creating a circuit split.

Rowan County – and the twenty South Carolina legislators who signed the amicus brief in their defense – is now asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review and reverse the Fourth Circuit’s decision.

If you find your legislator’s name on the list below, consider thanking them for their stance to defend religious freedom in our country. If you don’t know who your legislators are, click here.

  • John R. McCravy, III
  • George E. “Chip” Campsen, III
  • Richard J. Cash
  • Lawrence K. “Larry” Grooms
  • Daniel B. “Danny” Verdin, III
  • Richard L. “Richie” Yow
  • Todd K. Atwater
  • Linda “Lin” Bennett
  • William M. “Bill” Chumley
  • Sylleste H. Davis
  • Wallace H. “Jay” Jordan, Jr.
  • Steven Wayne Long
  • Josiah Magnuson
  • Anne J. Thayer
  • Ivory Torrey Thigpen
  • Chip Huggins
  • Richard “Rick” Martin
  • John Taliaferro “Jay” West, IV
  • William W. “Will” Wheeler, III
  • James Mike ll “Mike” Burns

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Briley Hughes

Briley Hughes

Communications Director


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