Veteran horsemen file lawsuit against unconstitutional regulation by private nonprofit
April 07, 2023
Little Rock, AR; April 7, 2023: Yesterday, Bill Walmsley, Jon Moss, and the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association for Iowa filed suit against the Federal Trade Commission to stop the illegally constituted Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA).
“Congress cannot outsource regulatory authority to a private organization — unaccountable to the American people — that has the power to create rules, levy fines, and adjudicate disputes,” said John Kerkhoff, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. “The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority plainly violates the separation of powers embodied in our Constitution.”
In 2020, Congress created HISA to set safety and anti-doping rules for anyone remotely involved in the industry. HISA enforces these rules in in-house proceedings that come with potentially ruinous fines. HISA’s creation upended more than a century of state regulation of horseracing. Since then, trainers, veterinarians, jockeys, and owners have struggled to know what rules they’re supposed to follow.
HISA is a private nonprofit organization. But the Constitution does not permit unaccountable, private actors to wield regulatory authority. Regulators must be accountable to the people, through their representatives in government. The Constitution ensures this by requiring that officers of the United States be appointed by the president or head of an executive department.
In fact, HISA violates the separation of powers in myriad ways:
The case is Bill Walmsley, et. al. v. Federal Trade Commission, filed in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.
Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 34 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 17 wins of 19 cases litigated at the U.S. Supreme Court.