Courts Can Review Railroad Retirement Benefits, Justices Say (1)

Feb. 3, 2021, 3:09 PM; Updated: Feb. 3, 2021, 3:37 PM

Railroad workers seeking benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board can have federal courts review adverse decisions, following a Supreme Court ruling on Wednesday.

The government didn’t overcome the strong presumption in favor of judicial review of agency actions, the justices said in a 5-4 ruling.

The vote breakdown shows how liberals can pull off victories in the new conservative court, with six of the nine justices appointed by Republicans. Here, the liberal wing—including Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan—were able to persuade Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh to join their side.

The ruling means former railroad worker Manfredo Salinas can have a federal court review the retirement board’s refusal to reopen his previous requests for benefits.

The board, created in 1935, paid $13.3 million to railroad workers in 2019.

The case is Salinas v. United States Railroad Retirement Board, U.S., No. 19-199.

(Updates with information on vote breakdown.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson in Washington at krobinson@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com; John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com

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