Barack Obama

Obama's Supreme Court Losing Streak: 0-3 in Property Rights Cases

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Credit: Library of Congress

On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that a group of California raisin farmers may proceed with a constitutional challenge against a New Deal-era law forcing them to turn over a portion of their crop to the federal government without compensation in order to reduce supply and fix prices. As I noted in my report on the ruling, this is the second unanimous defeat this term for the Obama administration in a 5th Amendment Takings Clause case.

That's not exactly a great track record for the White House, though as George Mason University law professor Ilya Somin observes, it actually gets worse if you broaden the category to property rights more generally. That's because last term, in Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency, a unanimous Supreme Court rejected Obama's argument that the EPA may issue regulatory commands to property owners without having to subject those commands to judicial review by the courts. "There is no reason to think that the Clean Water Act was uniquely designed to enable the strong-arming of regulated parties into 'voluntary compliance' without the opportunity for judicial review," the ruling declared.

So that's three major property cases and three resounding defeats for the Obama administration. As Somin puts it, "what these rulings really reflect is that the administration took such extreme positions that even liberal justices generally unsympathetic to property rights claims could not swallow them."