Supreme Court: No, Government Can’t Take Personal Property

Posted on June 25, 2015


Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

California raisin farmers Marvin and Laura Horne sought to evade this cartel regulation by handling their own raisin crop rather than by selling it to traditional handlers, to whom the Raisin Order clearly applied. Similarly, by buying and handling other producers’ raisins for a per-pound fee, the Hornes believed that they could avoid the Raisin Order’s definition of “handler” with respect to those purchased raisins.

An Agriculture Department regulator disagreed, finding the Hornes liable for numerous violations and fining them over $695,000, including an assessment of nearly $484,000 for the dollar value of the raisins not held in reserve.

The Hornes challenged the government’s scheme as a violation of the Fifth Amendment Takings Clause, which prohibits the government from taking “private property for a public use” “without just compensation.” Writing for a majority of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts found that the Takings Clause applies to personal property…

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