Supreme Court to decide whether Amtrak can help gov't agency craft railroad rules

The Supreme Court will consider whether Amtrak can partner with a government agency to create rules that other private railroads must follow.

The justices agreed Monday to hear the Obama administration's appeal of a lower court ruling that said Congress unconstitutionally gave regulatory power to the passenger railroad company.

Congress passed a law in 2008 that directed Amtrak to work with the Federal Railroad Administration to develop standards for improving passenger rail service. The American Association of Railroads sued, arguing that a private company was not allowed to develop regulations.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit agreed. It ruled that even though Amtrak is subject to government oversight, it remains a for-profit company that cannot be given regulatory authority.

The Transportation Department says Amtrak's role was limited.