“Raisin Hell” at SCOTUS

Posted: August 12, 2013 by ShortTimer in Economic freedom, Economics, FedGov, free markets, Government, Regulation, Tyranny, US Supreme Court

From Free Enterprise (last year):

Tis the season to give thanks. And for the last 80 years, the federal government has required raisin producers to “give thanks” for the privilege of selling their raisins nationally by requiring them to fork over up to half of their raisins – for free. A lawsuit raising a constitutional challenge to the program has now made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The case is Horne v. Department of Agriculture.

The program, operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has a rather Orwellian-sounding name – the “Raisin Marketing Order.” In a nutshell, under this program, every year, as a condition for “letting” farmers sell their raisin crops in interstate commerce, the federal government has taken up to 47% of the farmers’ raisins – often for no payment at all, or below the cost of producing the raisins. The program has its origins in Great Depression efforts to fix the prices of agricultural crops. Don’t care much for raisins? Similar programs cover a variety of other agricultural products, such as walnuts, almonds, prunes, tart cherries – and cranberries! That’s something to chew on as you sit down to your Thanksgiving meal tomorrow.

From Free Enterprise (a few weeks ago):

The Supreme Court overruled a decision that allowed the federal government to attempt to strong-arm raisin farmers, Marvin and Laura Horne, into giving up half their raisin crop.

…When the government told the Hornes to hand over the raisins or their cash equivalent, the Hornes fought back.  Their legal fight began over a decade ago and the federal government has levied almost $700,000 in fines against them.  Today, Marvin and Laura won their Supreme Court case.

In today’s decision, the Supreme Court held that the raisin farmers could use the Constitution’s Takings Clause to defend their property rights in the enforcement proceedings the government initiated after the Hornes refused to hand over their raisins.  (The Constitution’s Takings Clause says that the federal government must provide just compensation when the government takes a person’s private property.)

It’s nice to see SCOTUS pushing back against the government and the government’s regulatory oppression of businesses.  The problem is the government wanted to keep their $700,000 in fines and then make them file again to get the money back that the government illegally took.  Thieves with the force of law.

Worland, Wyoming.  Photo by ShortTimer.

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