Constitutional Law

10th Circuit tosses equal protection challenge to snowboarder ban

  • Print.

A federal appeals court has tossed a lawsuit that claimed a ski resort operating on federal land violated the equal protection clause when it banned snowboarders.

The Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled (PDF) on Tuesday in a suit challenging the snowboarder ban at the Alta Ski Area in Utah, report the Associated Press, National Public Radio and Courthouse News Service.

The group that challenged the ban, Wasatch Equality, had claimed the ban amounted to state action because the ski report operates on federal land through a permit issued by the U.S. Forest Service that is reviewed each year. The group said the snowboarder ban results from animus toward snowboarders, it isn’t supported by a rational basis, and it is an equal protection violation.

The appeals court found no state action and affirmed dismissal of the suit.

“Even after granting all reasonable inferences in Wasatch’s favor,” the appeals court said, “the complaint at best establishes that the Forest Service knows about the snowboard ban (through, e.g., Alta’s signage and trail maps) and continues to approve its permit each year notwithstanding the ban. … General awareness of the ban is not sufficient to establish state action.”

Alta is one of only three ski resorts that still ban snowboarders, and the only one of the three operating on federal land. The resort has marketed itself as skier-only mountain.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.