Horne v. Department of Agriculture

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: June 22, 2015
  • Case #: 14-275
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Roberts, C.J. delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito, JJ., joined, and in which Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan, JJ., joined as to Parts I and II. Thomas, J., filed a concurring opinion. Breyer, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which Ginsburg and Kagan, JJ., joined. Sotomayer, J., filed a dissenting opinion.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under the Fifth Amendment, the Government is required to pay just compensation for a taking of both real property and personal property. Under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act, the Government cannot regulate the market by taking crops from farmers without compensation.

The Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 gives the Secretary of Agriculture the ability to maintain markets for agricultural products. The Secretary imposed a raisin reserve requirement where raisin farmers must set aside a certain amount of their crop for the Government at no charge. Petitioner is a raisin grower who did not want to set aside any raisins for the Government, and argued that the requirement was an unjust taking.

The Ninth Circuit held that the reserve requirement was not a taking because personal property holds less protection than real property. Additionally, the court held that Petitioner was not completely separate from the product of raisins, and that the condition of the reserves benefits the raisin market.

The Court reversed, holding that the Government must pay just compensation when it obtains personal property, just as the Government would provide just compensation for taking real property. The Court found that the Government incorrectly claimed that since the farmers gain a profit from the raisin market that there is not a taking. Additionally, the Government cannot require the farmers to grow other crops or claim that the taking is in exchange for a benefit that the government is providing by controlling the market.

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