The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday sided with a California family that produces raisins and said the government can’t just take their products without paying for them.
“The Fifth Amendment requires that the government pay just compensation when it takes personal property, just as when it takes real property. Any net proceeds the raisin growers receive from the sale of the reserve raisins goes to the amount of compensation they have received for that taking – it does not mean the raisins have not been appropriated for government use,” the court said.
“Nor can the government make raisin growers relinquish their property without just compensation as a condition of selling their raisins…”
The opinion was written by Chief Justice John Roberts in a case brought by raisin producer Marvin Horne. It stemmed from a government order from the secretary of agriculture that raisin producers relinquish a certain percentage of their crop – in the year in question it was 47 percent – to the government at no charge.
The government’s intent purportedly was to “stabilize” a market, and it disposed of the confiscated raisins however it chose. If there was any income left after government expenses it distributed that proportionally to the raisin producers.
Horne argued that violated his constitutional protections against the government seizure of private property.