Congress unconstitutionally granted excessive powers to a nonprofit authority created in 2020 to make and enforce rules related to horse racing, a federal appeals court in New Orleans ruled Friday.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a ruling that the Horse Racing Integrity and Security Act (HISA) is “unconstitutional on its face.”
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The authority created by the law sought to develop uniform policies for horse racing, as well as its implementation, amid doping scandals and deaths of horses at tracks. But the 5th Circuit, in two decisions released Friday, ruled in favor of opponents of the law following lawsuits filed by horse racing associations and state officials in Texas, Louisiana and West Virginia.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has the final authority to approve or reject HISA regulations, but they cannot change them. And the authority has the power to reject the proposed amendments.
Three 5th Circuit judges sided with opponents of the law, including the National Riders Welfare and Protection Association and similar groups in several states, saying it gave too much power to nongovernmental officials and too little to the FTC.
“A fundamental constitutional principle is that federal authority can only be exercised by the federal government. Private entities can do so only if they are subject to an agency,” Justice Steward Kyle Duncan ruled in a case involving Texas. Wrote for the narrating panel.
The panel, which included Justices Carolyn Dineen King and Kurt Engelhardt, in a separate order in favor of horse racing interests and enforcement officials, cited a Texas decision that challenged HISA in another case.
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The head of the horse racing authority’s board of directors said it would request a new judicial review. Friday’s decision can be appealed to the full Fifth Circuit Supreme Court.
“If today’s decision is upheld, it will not take effect until January 10, 2023,” Charles Schiller said in an email.