Supreme Court

SCOTUS Agrees to Review Government's Uncompensated Taking of Raisin Crop in Major Property Rights Case


The Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment forbids the government from taking private for property for a public use without the payment of just compensation. Yet in May 2014 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld the federal government's uncompensated taking of a farmer's raisin crops in part because, in that court's view, the Takings Clause "affords more protection to real than to personal property." In the legal context, real property refers to land, soil, and the like; personal property refers to things like crops, livestock, and other non-land possessions. In other words, in its decision in the case of Horne v. Department of Agriculture, the 9th Circuit said that crops and comparable forms of private property deserve no more than second-class citizenship under the 5th Amendment.

But the 9th Circuit's ruling makes no sense in light of the text and history of the Takings Clause, which has long been understood to protect all kinds of property against unconstitutional government action. Indeed, no less an authority than James Madison, one of the architects of the Takings Clause, once described the U.S. system as being "instituted to protect property of every sort." The 9th Circuit ignored that Madisonian understanding and effectively turned the Takings Clause on its head.

Today the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review that dubious decision. For the sake of both property rights and constitutional coherence, the 9th Circuit should be overruled.

Related: Reason TV on "Feds vs. Raisins: Small Farmers Stand Up to the USDA."

NEXT: Half a Million U.S. Tax Dollars Literally Melt Into Afghan Countryside

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  1. For a magazine called *Raisin*…

  2. In the legal context, real property refers to land, soil, and the like; personal property refers to things like crops, livestock, and other non-land possessions.

    From the irrelevant legal minutiae department: unharvested crops are part of the real estate. They don’t become personal property until severed from the real property.

  3. I wonder if anyone will make an asset forfeiture case into a 5th amendment one? The government might argue that the property is being charged with a crime therefore there is due process, but that’s just retarded on its face.

  4. GOOD. I hope the SC makes the right call.

  5. I’m not optimistic, considering the SCOTUS ruling in Kelo.

    1. They might throw this one to the public as a gesture of goodwill for the PR, since it can be narrowly decided and have less impact, but still look good. (For some reason, certain members of the court have an infatuation with public opinion over constitutional law)

  6. Why is this not just another form of excise tax on the production of raisins?

    1. Because it’s not a fixed amount from year to year. Changing the value of an excise tax takes work. Setting the amount to be stolen is relatively easy (in a bureaucratic sense)

  7. my roomate’s aunt makes $83 an hour on the computer . She has been out of a job for 7 months but last month her check was $20229 just working on the computer for a few hours. read more……….

  8. It’s completely nonsensical to make a distinction between real estate and other kinds or property. Everyone should be aware that all forms of property have a cash value and can be exchanged for one another. Real estate is no less a way of storing value than cash ,or securities, or raisins, for that matter. (Let us take due note that drying fruit is a form of preservation – not that it really makes a difference).

    Making land more deserving of protection also biases the law in favor of land-owners, at the expense of other people who keep their property in cash or securities or other assets.

    Now I have to ask – is a fucking raisin quota system from the fucking 30s so fucking sacred that the fucking progressives in this administration are willing to create a precedent that literally treats land-owners as more deserving of protection under the law?
    Someone needs to slap these people upside the head and remind them that they are supposed to be in favor of the little guy, and not for big government for it’s own sake. It’s like “Oh, this comes from FDR therefore it must be inherently GOOD, so we have to defend it to the death!”

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