The report continues…..
Filed in December 2014 by the attorneys general of Nebraska and Oklahoma, the lawsuit in question asks the Supreme Court to overturn Colorado’s 2012 law legalizing marijuana, arguing the neighboring states have faced increased criminal activity and other problems thanks to marijuana arriving from Colorado. The lawsuit also says Colorado’s marijuana program violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S Constitution, which states that federal law — in this case, the prohibition of marijuana — takes precedence over state statutes. That means that if the Supreme Court agrees with the plaintiffs on this matter, medical and recreational marijuana regimes not just in Colorado, but all over the country, could be invalidated.
“It has the potential to be a big deal,” said Sam Kamin, marijuana law professor at the University of Denver. “Conceivably it could mean that the court finds that Colorado’s and every other state’s regulations of marijuana [are] preempted by federal law and have to be annulled or repealed, or can’t be enforced.”
A victory for the plaintiffs could also reverberate far beyond marijuana policy. Many believe such a decision would be a major blow for states’ rights, which is why many conservative colleagues of the Republican attorneys general behind the suit are vocal critics of the effort. Plus, using the same legal arguments, the attorney general of, say, California could sue Utah over its lax gun laws, arguing too many firearms are flowing into the Golden State.
Kamin, though, has long believed the lawsuit against Colorado has little chance of succeeding. “I’ve always thought the court isn’t going to take it or dismiss it for lack of standing,” he said. “The plaintiffs can’t show they could be helped by a positive decision in their favor.” Even the U.S. government takes a dim view of the case; in December, the solicitor general urged the Supreme Court to deny the lawsuit.
Even without Scalia’s vote, it’s possible four justices will agree to move forward with considering the lawsuit. If that happens, the Supreme Court could be looking at a far more complicated scenario. With the political landscape suggesting a ninth justice won’t be approved to replace Scalia anytime soon, it’s possible the case could end in a 4-4 tie. Usually that means the lower court decision being appealed stands, with no national precedent. But in interstate lawsuits, there are no lower court decisions. So what happens then?