Attorney General Paxton has secured a significant victory in the New Orleans-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, with the court striking down the federal Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) as unconstitutional.  

HISA, enacted in 2020, is a federal law that nationalized regulation of the horseracing industry, thereby destroying state and local control. It delegated unprecedented power to a private group named the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, including the power to establish new rules, issue subpoenas, and enforce regulations with civil sanctions or obtain injunctive relief. This private entity, unelected and unaccountable to taxpayers, is ostensibly under the purview of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), but the Fifth Circuit points out that the FTC’s authority over it is too limited to provide proper oversight.  

The Fifth Circuit’s opinion comes after Attorney General Paxton and the Texas Racing Commission intervened in the case in support of horseracing associations fighting to prevent the Authority, armed with unchecked federal power, from dictating to horseracing communities across the country.   

As the court points out in its decision, it is alarming for government to confer such unbridled power and autonomy to a private regulatory body: “[T]he Constitution vests federal power only in the three branches of the federal government. Congress defies this basic safeguard by vesting government power in a private entity not accountable to the people. That is what it has done in HISA. The Authority’s power outstrips any private delegation the Supreme Court or our court has allowed. We must therefore declare HISA facially unconstitutional.” 

To read the full opinion, click here.