I had a bowl of delicious Raisin Bran Crunch for breakfast today, but those two scoops of raisins cost me dearly, thanks in part to a federal price-fixing scheme dating back to the Great Depression. That could all change soon.
Today (4/22), the U.S. Supreme Court is called upon to decide, in Horne v. USDA, whether a farmer’s raisin crop belongs to her, or if the federal government may seize it “for public use without just compensation.”
Constitution geeks (a remnant surely remains of what used to be called simply “American citizens”) will recognize the snippet in quotations drawn from the 5th Amendment, which says, in part:
No person shall…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board notes that according to the Raisin Administrative Committee, created in 1949 under the authority of the 1937 Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act, Marvin and Laura Horne, of Fresno, California, must surrender large chunks of their crop to the government each season.
In 2002, their “offering” on the altar of Uncle Sam amounted to 47 percent of their bounty, for which they received less money than it cost to produce the raisins. They refused to submit to what they viewed as a violation of rights ostensibly secured by the 5th Amendment.
The Horne case is one of the most significant property rights cases in years—probably since the Court’s infamous 5-4 ruling in 2005 in Kelo v. New London, which allowed the government to take Susette Kelo’s home so a developer could replace it with condos and stores near a Pfizer Corp. office. The majority Justices in Kelo have a lot to answer for. This is a chance to make partial amends.
— The Wall Street Journal, 4/20/2015
It’s anyone’s guess how the court will rule.
Why should you care? What if the federal government decided to treat smartphones the same way?
For my part, I think I’ll start stockpiling Raisin Bran Crunch.