Raisin Farmers, Homeowners Associations & The Supreme Court

by Deborah Goonan
When I read Evan Bernick’s (Assistant Director at the Institute for Justice) summary of the latest Supreme Court decision involving property rights of raisin farmers, I was taken aback by the parallels to a decades-long battle to protect property rights of homeowners in private, mandatory Homeowners Associations.

In HORNE ET AL. v. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, family farmers Marvin and Laura Horne of California were ordered to surrender 30% of their raisin crop to the federal government. Based upon a New Deal Era law, as part of an effort to control raisin prices, the Raisin Administrative Committee would take a portion of the growers’ crops, without immediate compensation. Once the raisin reserve was sold many months later, on terms negotiated by the Committee, any remaining proceeds would be distributed back to the farmers. Seems unfair, right?

When the Hornes refused to turn over their raisins, the government fined them $480,000, the claimed value of the raisins, plus a $200,000 “disobedience” penalty. The matter ended up in court. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found in favor of the federal government. As Bernick explains:

“It reasoned that the Takings Clause affords more protection to real property (land) than it does to personal property (in this case, raisins). In addition, it characterized the reserve requirement as a “condition” imposed in exchange for a government benefit (that is, the privilege of engaging in commercial activity), rather than a taking, adding that the Hornes could always avoid the requirement by “planting different crops.”

This is a Preview, read more at Raisin Farmers, Homeowners Associations & The Supreme Court on Neighbors at War

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