- Jonathan Mitchell, Solicitor General of Texas
Please Join the Silicon Valley Lawyers Chapter for Lunch with Richard Epstein
On December 9, 2014, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Alabama Department of Revenue v. CSX Transportation. The question presented in the case is twofold: (1) whether a state violates the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976 (4-R Act) by “discriminating against a rail carrier” when it requires rail carriers to pay a sales-and-use tax but exempts railroads’ competitors from paying the same tax; and (2) whether, in resolving a claim of unlawful tax discrimination under the 4-R Act, a court should consider the state's broader tax system rather than focusing only on the challenged tax provision.
To discuss the case, we have Andy Grewal, who is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Iowa College of Law.
Congress passed the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) in 2008. Section 207 of PRIIA requires the Federal Railroad Administration and Amtrak to “jointly develop” the metrics and standards for Amtrak’s performance that are used by the Surface Transportation Board to trigger the investigation of private freight railroads for failing to provide preferences for Amtrak passenger trains (as required by federal law) if Amtrak fails to meet the standards. Is PRIIA Section 207 an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power to a private entity? The D.C. Circuit said yes, concluding that the statute is the functional equivalent of granting General Motors the authority to write regulations covering its industry rivals. Will the Supreme Court agree and breathe life into the rarely invoked non-delegation doctrine? Our expert attended the oral argument on Monday, December 8, and offered his impressions to a Teleforum audience.