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By T. D. Thornton
Leroy Gessmann, who served as president of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) from 2015 to 2021 and currently works as the Arizona HBPA’s executive director, told commissioners at the Arizona Racing Commission (AZRC) meeting Thursday that regardless of the decision gets handed down by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, both the HBPA and its opponents in a 2 1/2-year-old lawsuit to nullify the Horseracing and Safety Integrity Act (HISA) agree that the nation’s highest court will eventually have to be called upon to settle the matter.
Gessmann spoke in the wake of Oct. 4 oral arguments in the Fifth Circuit case that pits the HBPA and 12 of its affiliates against the HISA Authority and the Federal Trade Commission. On May 4, a lower court deemed that the now-in-effect version of HISA is indeed constitutional because a 2022 rewrite of the law fixed constitutionality problems the Fifth Circuit had identified. Shortly after that lower court’s ruling came out in the spring, the HBPA plaintiffs then swiftly filed for another appeal back to the Fifth Circuit, which agreed to hear the case on an “expedited” basis.