Supreme Court hears arguments on tax, railroads
Supreme Court hears arguments on tax, railroads

The US Supreme Court [official website] heard oral arguments [day call, PDF] in two cases Monday. In Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl [transcript, PDF; JURIST report] the court is considering whether the Tax Injunction Act (TIA) [28 USC § 1341] bars federal court jurisdiction over a suit brought by non-taxpayers to enjoin the informational notice and reporting requirements of a state law that neither imposes a tax, nor requires the collection of a tax, but serves only as a secondary aspect of state tax administration. The US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled [opinion] that the TIA deprived the district court of jurisdiction to enjoin Colorado’s tax collection effort.

In Department of Transportation v. Association of American Railroads [transcript, PDF; JURIST report] the court heard arguments on whether §207 of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) [text] “effects an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power to a private entity.” Section 207(a) of the PRIIA requires that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) [official website] and Amtrak [corporate website] “jointly … develop” the metrics and standards for Amtrak’s performance that will be used in part to determine whether the Surface Transportation Board (STB) [official website] will investigate a freight railroad for failing to provide the preference for Amtrak’s passenger trains that is required by 49 USC § 24308(c) [text]. In the event that the FRA and Amtrak cannot agree on the metrics and standards within 180 days, Section 207(d) of the PRIIA provides for the STB to “appoint an arbitrator to assist the parties in resolving their disputes through binding arbitration.” The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled [opinion] that §207 “constitutes an unlawful delegation of regulatory power to a private entity.”