Tag Archives: Railroad Retirement Act

Average Joe SCOTUS: Salinas v. United States Railroad Retirement Board

Here’s your basic snooze fest of a case. But since the government has a buttload of rules for the railroad industry, SCOTUS finds a lot of these on their docket.

Good ole Manfredo Salinas was a railroad worker, who eventually got injured on the job, fucked up his back big time, and argued he couldn’t work anymore after multiple surgeries.

As such, he applied for a disability annuity in 2006. But the board denied his application, because apparently a well-functioning back isn’t necessary to work on the railroad.

Then in 2013, Salinas filed again, and this time, was granted his benefits by the same board, arguing that in his advanced age with his injuries, he was basically fucked if he tried to find a job.

Salinas was like, “Thanks. Now let’s talk about that 2006 claim you assholes denied.”

So he sued in the 5th Circuit, but they were like, “A denial by the board is their decision to make, dipshit. We aren’t getting involved.” Their reason, is kinda contrived though. Because a decision to deny reopening an old decision isn’t a final decision that the court can review, although the decision to deny the claim is, but that decision had a time time bar, meaning if not decided within a certain time, it’s dead. Stupid, right?

So basically, SCOTUS is being asked to determine if the courts can in fact rule on a decision not to reopen.

In a 5:4 decision, not even remotely decided on party lines, SCOTUS ruled in favor of Salinas. They opined that a decision by the Railroad Board is in fact subject to judicial review, so they reviewed it. Alito, Gorsuch, Thomas, and Barrett sided against, basically saying that the language in the RRA limits judicial review to the board’s claims of rights or liabilities, and they considered this administrative action, and thus not subject for review.

Read about the case or hear oral arguments here at Oyez or read about it here at SCOTUS Blog