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Brett Kavanaugh shut down by Supreme Court justices



Brett Kavanaugh shut down by Supreme Court justices

Justice Brett Kavanaugh was shut down by his Supreme Court colleagues over a case challenging online sports gambling.

In Monday’s order list, the court denied a petition of writ from West Flagler Associates and Bonita-Fort Myers Corporation—two rival gaming competitors—asking the justices to invalidate a compact made between the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Governor Ron DeSantis that gave the tribe exclusive rights to run mobile sports wagering and casino gambling in Florida.

But while the majority of justices chose to end the legal fight over the compact, Kavanaugh, who previously made comments suggesting he saw merit in the case, voted to grant the petition. Because the Supreme Court requires at least four justices to grant certiorari in order to take up a case, Kavanaugh’s sole vote is not enough for oral arguments to be granted in the Florida case.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson did not participate in the decision, citing prior judicial service. She previously served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which reversed a federal judge’s ruling last June.

A lower court had initially sided with the gaming competitors and found that the compact violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, but the appeals court overturned that decision, allowing the Seminole Tribe of Florida to continue accepting online wagers.

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh at the U.S. Capitol on December 3, 2018. Kavanaugh was recently shut down by his fellow justices over a sports betting case.

Jabin Botsford/Getty Images

West Flager and Bonita-Myers sued Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who oversees tribal gambling, arguing that the betting was not taking place on tribal land and that the online bets were being merely being placed to servers that were on reservations.

“The Seminole Tribe of Florida applauds today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to decline consideration of the case involving the Tribe’s Gaming Compact with the State of Florida,” Gary Bitner, a spokesperson for the tribe, told the Sun Sentinel on Monday. “It means members of the Seminole Tribe and all Floridians can count on a bright future made possible by the Compact.”

DeSantis signed legislation approving the largest gaming compact in history in 2021. The compact allocates hundreds of millions of dollars from the state’s gambling deal to land acquisition, wildlife preservation and waterway protection. Since the tribe launched its online sports betting operation late last year, Florida’s share of 2024 revenues is already more than $120 million.

The rival firms argued that the compact gave the tribe a sports gambling monopoly and created a “backdoor” way out of the state Constitution, which was amended in 2018 to require a citizens’ initiative in order to expand casino gambling outside tribal land.

West Flager and Bonita-Myers have also sued DeSantis and Florida lawmakers in a case before the Florida Supreme Court.