Fifth Circuit Appeals Court rules HISA is unconstitutional

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Nov. 18, 2022

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Nov. 18 ruled that the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act is unconstitutional on the grounds that it delegates “unsupervised government power to a private entity.”

The case has been remanded to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas for further proceedings. The lawsuit challenging HISA’s constitutionality was filed in 2021 by the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, multiple HBPA affiliates, the state of Texas, and the Texas Racing Commission.

The ruling is available here.

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority issued a statement from Board of Directors Chairman Charles Scheeler, who indicated HISA intends to continue its work.

“While HISA is disappointed by the Fifth Circuit’s decision, we remain confident in HISA’s constitutionality and will be seeking further review of this case,” Scheeler said. “If today’s ruling were to stand, it would not go into effect until Jan. 10, 2023, at the earliest. We are focused on continuing our critical work to protect the safety and integrity of Thoroughbred racing, including the launch of HISA’s Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program on Jan. 1, 2023.”

HISA’s Racetrack Safety Program took effect July 1 of this year. The HISA assessments for both programs in 2023 were received by racing regulatory agencies in the U.S. in October. The total HISA budget for next year is about $75 million.