USTA Joins Oklahoma HISA Lawsuit

Published: April 27, 2021 01:30 pm EDT

The State of Oklahoma, joined by the U.S. Trotting Association, Hanover Shoe Farms, the State of West Virginia and others, filed a federal lawsuit in the Eastern Division of Kentucky U.S. District Court challenging the constitutionality of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act on Monday (April 26).

Other plaintiffs in the complaint filed for a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief are the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission, West Virginia Racing Commission, Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association and three Oklahoma racetracks – Remington Park, Will Rogers Downs and Fair Meadows.

“The U.S. Trotting Association has been pressing these unconstitutionality objections for more than four years and we have been ignored,” said USTA President and Hanover Shoe Farms President & CEO Russell Williams. “Instead, Senator McConnell sneaked HISA through at the last minute, without any hearing or debate, in the middle of a 5,500-page, must-pass omnibus funding measure.

“Now two states are challenging HISA in federal court alongside the USTA, and more states are considering joining us. HISA must be struck down.

“Along with the National Association of Racetrack Veterinarians, the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, and legal counsel, the USTA has prepared a draft federal bill named the Racehorse Health and Safety Act that does not violate the U.S. Constitution and does protect the health and welfare of the horse for all racing breeds,” added Williams. “This is the bill that should have been introduced in Congress years ago, but the Jockey Club had other ideas.

“The American Quarter Horse Association, the Association of Racing Commissioners International, the state racing commissions, and even the recently-formed harness racing industry round table will be studying this legislation in order to have a legal and appropriate regulatory plan ready to introduce as legislation once HISA has been declared unconstitutional and is out of the way,” said Williams.

A press release issued by Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter’s office on Monday stated that, “HISA disregards foundational law within the Constitution, including the Tenth Amendment. Congress cannot force a state legislature to either appropriate dollars for a private corporation, like the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, or be banned from passing legislation imposing certain taxes or fees. That puts Congress in control of state branches of government, which violates the law.”

To read Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter’s press release, click here.

Defendants named in the lawsuit are the United States of America, Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, Inc., Leonard S. Coleman, Jr., Nancy M. Cox, Federal Trade Commission, Rebecca Kelly Slaughter (as Acting Chair of the FTC) and three others in their capacities as Commissioners of the FTC – Noah Joshua Phillips, Rohit Chopra and Christine S. Wilson.

To read the complete lawsuit, click here.