In a 33-page opinion and order, Judge Joseph Hood on June 3 dismissed a legal challenge to the horse racing integrity and safety law brought by the states of Oklahoma, West Virginia, their respective racing commissions and others.
Hood, Senior United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Kentucky based in Lexington, ordered that the case be dismissed with prejudice, writing that the order is final and subject to appeal.
The case centered on various plaintiffs’ arguments claiming that federal legislation called HISA is an unconstitutional delegation of power to a private organization, the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, also known as HISA. The legislation grants the Federal Trade Commission the power to make rules to standardize drug and track safety regulations that are now in place state-by-state in 38 racing jurisdictions.
“Plaintiff’s main problem with the legislation,” Hood wrote, “is that the FTC’s rules will be based on the Authority’s proposed standards, which plaintiffs claim the FTC is required to adopt, making the FTC subordinate to the Authority.”
Defendants who include HISA have asked for the case to be dismissed and for summary judgment, arguing that the court lacked jurisdiction over this type of case; and that the complaint did not indicate a claim on which relief could be awarded at law.
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After concluding that the plaintiffs had standing to bring the case and that the case was ripe for a decision because the start of HISA on July 1 is fast approaching, Hood determined that the court had jurisdiction in the matter, which which means that he has not only the power, but the duty to make a decision.
Hood then turned to the merits of the case and concluded, assuming that all of the facts contained in the plaintiffs’ complaint are true, that plaintiff’s claim against HISA cannot be granted.
Congressional Delegation of Authority
Hood found that the enabling statute contains an “intelligible principle” that sufficiently guides the FTC’s regulatory authority that the statute is not an unconstitutional delegation of power to the federal agency by Congress.
The judge then concluded that the legislation gave the FTC sufficient “authority and supervision” over the Authority to ensure that it operated as a private entity subordinate to the FTC, and not the other way around, in the process of rule making. For the same reason, Hood wrote, the argument against the Authority’s alleged self-interest must fail.
Enforcement powers of the Authority
In addition to the plaintiffs’ arguments regarding rule-making, they objected to the Authority’s legal right to enforce those rules, arguing that it is unconstitutional for the Authority to be allowed to investigate parties accused of have violated the regulations, to bring civil actions against them and to rule on doping. and drug offences.
Hood wrote that such actions are permitted as long as they take place under uniform procedures approved by the FTC, also noting that penalties and sanctions cannot be imposed without providing due process rights and an impartial tribunal. to make decisions that are subject to review. by an administrative law judge, whose decision in turn is subject to review by the FTC and the judiciary.
Anti-Commander Doctrine Not Violated
Does the HISA cross a constitutionally prohibited line that prohibits Congress from requiring states to fund the Authority’s operations and enlisting them to carry out its operations? There is strong precedent against crossing this line set by the United States Supreme Court, which ruled “that Congress may not pass legislation requiring a state to regulate or enforce federal law.”
Hood replied in the negative. Although the law states that states “may” remit fees to HISA for its operations, they are not required to do so. Only private entities are required to pay fees, Hood wrote, and any state involvement in achieving this goal is voluntary.
The judge also wrote that a passage of the law requiring cooperation and information sharing between HISA and federal and state law enforcement authorities only requires HISA to cooperate with states, not the other way around. .
The Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission told BloodHorse Friday night that it was “disappointed with today’s rulings, but is very grateful that a ruling has finally been issued so that the case can move forward in the appeal process”.
Multiple setbacks for HISA opponents
The ruling was the second setback for opponents of HISA in federal court in about two months. Claims filed in the Eastern District of Texas by the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and joined by affiliated HBPAs to stop the Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Act from moving forward were dismissed on 31 march by U.S. District Judge James Wesley Hendrix. An appeal of the decision to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is pending.
Any appeal of Hood’s decision would go to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
National Thoroughbred Racing Association President and CEO Tom Rooney said, “We are pleased with the Kentucky court’s thoughtful decision, which is consistent with the recent Texas court decision. This decision further validates longstanding efforts to create uniform standards of security and integrity. consistency and fairness from state to state to protect horses, jockeys, trainers, customers and everyone involved in the sport of horse racing. We look forward to the implementation of the law on July 1.