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United States Supreme Court Certiorari Granted


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Horne v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: November 20, 2012
Case #: 12-123
Court Below: Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 673 F.3d 1071 (2012)
Full Text Opinion: http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2012/03/12/10-15270.pdf

Constitutional Law: Whether a party may bring a Fifth Amendment Just Compensation Clause challenge in district court prior to exhausting the statutorily prescribed process for obtaining just compensation through the Court of Federal Claims.

The Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, 7 U.S.C. §§ 601 et seq., is a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulation that authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to issue marketing orders designed to limit the supply of certain agricultural products on the open market in order to stabilize prices. The Raisin Marketing Order, 7 C.F.R. §§ 989 et seq., requires raisin “handlers” (persons who process and pack the raisins) but not “producers” (persons who grow the grapes and dry them) to set aside 30% to 50% of their raisin crop each year for the USDA to distribute.

Petitioners are raisin farmers who are classified as both producers and handlers who failed to set aside the allotted percentage of their crop in the years 2002-2003 and 2003-2004. After the USDA fined Petitioners $438,843.53, the value of the raisins that should have been set aside each year, Petitioners sued under the Fifth Amendment Takings Clause in their capacity as producers claiming that the regulatory scheme takes property belonging to producers, not to handlers.

The district court granted the USDA summary judgment and Petitioners appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which held that Petitioners must first pay their fines and then bring their claim in the Court of Federal Claims under the Tucker Act rather than under the Fifth Amendment Takings Clause. The Court ruled that because Petitioners did not bring the claim in the Court of Federal Claims, the district court lacked jurisdiction to decide on the Fifth Amendment claim and affirmed the summary judgment.

The Supreme Court granted cert to resolve a circuit split between the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and the Courts of Appeals for the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth and District of Columbia Circuits.