WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court Monday by 8-1 struck down a federal raisin price-support program, ruling the New Deal-era marketing scheme unconstitutionally requires growers to surrender their crop to the government for future sale.
The program violates the Fifth Amendment prohibition of taking private property “for public use without just compensation,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court, joined in full or part by seven colleagues. Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented.
The Supreme Court long has upheld farm production limits and marketing regulations that President Franklin Roosevelt instituted to resuscitate an agricultural industry during the Great Depression. But the peculiar structure of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s raisin program—which requires growers to physically surrender their crop to an industry-controlled government panel called the Raisin Administrative Committee—troubled the court.
True, “a physical taking of raisins and a regulatory limit on production may have the same economic impact on a grower,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote. “The Constitution, however, is concerned with means as well as ends,” and the raisin program was constructed in a way that ran afoul of the Takings Clause.