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Dan Gilmore / June 23, 2015

SCOTUS and the Raisin Hope for Property Rights

Marvin Horne of Fresno, California, has been vindicated. Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that if the Raisin Administrative Committee was going to take Horne’s raisins it needed to compensate the farmer. In Horne v. Department of Agriculture, Horne refused to give up his raisins to the Raisin Administrative Committee and the agency was fining him at the tune of $695,000. The committee is a New Deal-era program designed to control the supply of raisins so the prices remain artificially high. It would take a portion of farmers’ grapes and either donate them to school lunch programs or sell them overseas. Farmers used to be compensated, but then the payout dwindled to nothing. The Ninth Circuit Court originally ruled in favor of the administrative committee, saying the Constitution’s Taking Clause only covered real estate, but Chief Justice John Roberts, writing the majority opinion, ruled, “Government has a categorical duty to pay just compensation when it takes your car, just as when it takes your home.” This ruling comes 10 years after the bungled SCOTUS ruling in Kelo v. New London, which said the city of New London could take the home of Susette Kelo and give her property to a private developer. Currently, Kelo’s pink home is demolished and the lot stands empty. While the raisin ruling is a step in the right direction, it will take years before the government fully moves past Kelo and respects the property of the citizens.

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