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Horne v. Department of Agriculture

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: June 10, 2013
Case #: 12-123
Thomas, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-123_c07d.pdf

Constitutional Law: A fine for a violation of an agricultural marketing order must not be paid prior to filing a “takings” claim.

The Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 (AMAA) permits the Secretary of Agriculture to regulate production and supply the agricultural industry. The Raisin Marketing Order (RMO) of 1949 created a term called reserve-tonnage, meaning an annual portion of individual raisin crops are required to be given to the government. Orders given by the Secretary only apply to “handlers,” or people who process and package agricultural products for distribution. Civil and criminal penalties can result from refusing to comply with these orders.


Petitioner, a California raisin farmer, implemented a production system that involved selling raisins without using handlers so as to avoid repercussions under the AMAA. Respondent filed an action against the Petitioner to enforce compliance with the order of reserve-tonnage payment under the RMO. An Administrative Law Judge ruled against Petitioners, finding that they should be subject to the order prescribed by the AMAA. Petitioners filed a suit in district court, and the court granted summary judgment for Respondent.


The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's ruling but held that it did not have jurisdiction to rule on Petitioner's Fifth Amendment claim under the Takings Clause. The Supreme Court reversed, remanded and held that that the Court of Appeals does have jurisdiction to determine a Takings Clause question as to whether the imposition of civil and criminal fines and penalties violated the Fifth Amendment. Further, a fine for a violation of an agricultural marketing order must not be paid prior to filing a “takings” claim.