At 8:00 am one morning in 2002, the federal government arrived at the raisin farm of the Horne family and demanded they load nearly half-million dollars-worth of raisins into the government truck, without receiving payment in return. The Hornes refused. They were then slapped with a fine of $200,000 plus another $480,000 for the estimated market value of the raisins themselves. The Hornes turned to the courts to avoid paying this crippling penalty. Litigation dragged on for more than a decade, until it was finally resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 victory for property rights.
The simple question presented to the Court was whether the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment requires the government to pay just compensation to raisin farmers when the government grabs their raisins, as required when government takes someone’s land. The Supreme Court answered “yes,” ruling that people have as strong a property right in their raisins as they do in their land.
The government should have known that it was violating the Constitution, and should have never put the Horne family farmers through 10 years of litigation.
Listen to the radio commentary here: