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Multistate AG Coalition Asks SCOTUS to Protect State Authority to Regulate Blocked Railroad Crossings

  • A group of 19 AGs filed an amicus brief in support of Ohio’s petition for writ of certiorari in Ohio v. CSX Transportation, Inc. The case is before the U.S. Supreme Court on appeal from an Ohio Supreme Court decision holding that an Ohio law limiting how long a train could block a railroad crossing was preempted by federal railway laws.
  • In their brief, the AGs asked the Court to grant Ohio’s petition and uphold and clarify the states’ authority to enforce anti-blocking laws, such as the Ohio law at issue in the case. They argued that there are no federal equivalents to anti-blocking laws, likely because Congress meant to leave the regulation of congested railroad crossings to the longstanding authority of the states, and there had been no clear statement or preemption.
  • The AGs further contended that “blocked crossings impose local risks and costs and therefore constitute local safety hazards that are best addressed by States and municipalities.” They cited examples of incidents in multiple states where blocked crossings prevented emergency vehicles from reaching imperiled citizens, or exacerbated dangerous motorist and pedestrian behaviors, and that state anti-blocking laws are one of the only incentives for railroads to remove idle trains from crossings in an expeditious manner to avert such incidents.