U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Favor of California Raisin Growers – Why It Matters.


    Editor’s Note: The information below is from the article: United States Supreme Court Says Raisin Marketing Order Effected Unconstitutional Taking. To read the full  article with Background, Facts of the Case and More –  Click Here.

    For more than a decade, California raisin growers have been warring with the federal government over a 66-year-old marketing order. The lead plaintiff in the case is a California raisin grower that packs and sells the raisins that he grows.  Despite the arguable obscurity of the specific order at issue, the June 22, 2015, United States Supreme Court opinion striking down the order as an unconstitutional physical taking of private property has broader implications for property rights in general and other agricultural marketing orders in particular.

    Top 5 Important Points from the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation (CALT): 

    1- Given that the holding in this case rested upon the finding that the Order required an actual physical taking, the eventual impact of this case is uncertain. The raisin marketing order, as well as any similar marketing orders impacting commodities involving other fruits, nuts, vegetables and milk could seemingly be restructured to accomplish the same purpose and the same ultimate restrictions while still complying with takings law.

    2- Other USDA marketing orders are structured in the same manner as the raisin Order that the Court deemed unconstitutional. Those orders involve California almonds, dates, dried prunes, and walnuts, tart cherries that are grown in seven states, and spearmint oil that is produced in five states. The impact of the decision on agricultural check-off programs would appear to be trivial to non-existent.  Check-offs establish mandatory assessments for the promotion of particular agricultural products.  The government never actually acquires title to the agricultural products at issue in a check-off.

    3- Perhaps of larger and more general import is the clear holding that personal property is afforded the same protection as real property under Constitutional takings law.  That point seems obvious, but it is refreshing to see the Court state it.  Conversely, it is troubling to see a sitting Justice of the Supreme Court determine that a physical taking had not occurred when the government seized personal tangible property of a private citizen and acquired title to it.

    4- The case is also interesting because of Chief Justice Robert’s conclusion, which, when stripped to its core essence, stands for the proposition that the government cannot impose a “tax” for participating in interstate commerce (e.g., the growers had to either turn over a substantial portion of their crop or pay a fine to be able to sell the other portion of their crop).  In the Court’s 2012 ruling on the individual mandate contained in the health care law,[14] Chief Justice Roberts upheld the mandate by holding that the government could impose a tax for not participating in interstate commerce (e.g., not obtaining health insurance).  Those two outcomes seem to directly contradict each other.

    5- It should comfort all Americans to know that “the Government has a categorical duty to pay just compensation when it takes your car, just as when it takes your home.” Less comforting to most is the fact that this issue was seemingly unsettled before today.


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