The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] 8-1 Monday in Horne v. Department of Agriculture [SCOTUSblog materials] that a program requiring California raisin growers to hand over a percentage of their harvest to the government violated the takings clause [LII backgrounder] of the Fifth Amendment. Under regulations citing the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 [text, PDF], the government ordered growers to set aside the crops for government use in an effort to stabilize raisin prices. If there was a monetary surplus from the program, the government would pay farmers for the raisins, but less than the market value. The government had argued that because the raisins were personal property rather than real estate, and because the farmers received some form of consideration, the program did not violate the takings clause. The court disagreed, ordering the government to pay market price for crops set aside in this way, and waiving penalties the government had imposed on growers who had not cooperated. Writing for the court, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the program did constitute a taking, had not been agreed to by virtue of the farmers participating in the raisin market, and that
Nothing in the text or history of the Takings Clause, or our precedents, suggests that the rule is any different when it comes to appropriation of personal property. The Government has a categorical duty to pay just compensation when it takes your car, just as when it takes your home.
The ruling reversed an earlier decision [opinion, PDF] by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website].
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a concurrence. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a dissent. The court granted certiorari to the case in January and heard oral arguments [JURIST reports] in April. It follows an earlier case in which the court also found in favor [JURIST report] of the growers over the issue of whether the Ninth Circuit had jurisdiction to hear the case.