The Daily Journal in San Francisco and Los Angeles published an op ed I wrote about Horne v. U.S.D.A., also known as the “raisin takings case.” As I reported, the U.S. Supreme Court recently granted cert in this case, for the second time. The first time it held that Marvin and Laura Horne, raisin farmers from Fresno, could raise their Fifth Amendment takings challenge in federal district court. They tried to do so after the USDA instituted enforcement proceedings against them—to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars—after they refused to surrender 47% of their raisin crop to the government. Now the High Court has agreed to hear their takings claim on the merits. It will consider whether the Ninth Circuit erred in finding the requirement to surrender a large portion of one’s crop to the government not a taking, but rather, merely a “restriction on the use of one’s crop.” As I said in the Daily Journal article, this case is vitally important, not just for farmers, but for anyone trying to do business in America:
If the 9th Circuit is right that government may condition a person’s ability to engage in commerce on his surrender of property, where does that end? May the government, for example, require Apple to surrender a certain number of iPads every year to stabilize the electronics market, as a condition of it selling the remainder of its iPad stock? Existing precedent says “no”—a requirement to cede property to the government is a per se taking, no matter whether that requirement arises in the context of commercial or personal transactions. Hopefully the Supreme Court will affirm that precedent and hold a taking of raisins just as unconstitutional as a taking of a right of way on land. But we’ll have to wait and see.
Pacific Legal Foundation is filing an amicus brief supporting the Hornes in this case.