Would it surprise you that the government can legally take half a farmer’s crop without any compensation?
No, we aren’t talking about the Soviet-era government. We’re talking about the modern-day U.S. Federal Government.
The law is called the Raisin Marketing Order, and it was created during the Great Depression in an attempt to guarantee stable prices and availability of raisins. It is still in place nearly a century later and has caused a major controversy that will soon be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court.
At issue is whether the government can forcibly take part of a farmer’s crop without fair compensation.
The case involves Laura and Marvin Horne, fifth generation California farmers. They are fighting the government’s attempt to take nearly half their crop without payment.
The Horne’s legal battle began thirteen years ago, when the government raided their farm — “commando-style” — to seize their raisins when they didn’t cooperate.
“We were just dying on the vine. Had no place to go,” said Marvin. “This is America. We want to sell our own product.”
Not only did the government not pay the Hornes, they fined them $650,000.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments last April. Some justices are skeptical of the government’s position.
“Justice Kagan said this is probably the most out-of-date program in the world, and she’s absolutely right,” said Andrew Grossman, an attorney at BakerHostetler.
Grossman specializes in constitutional law. He says the government’s ability to take private property for little or no compensation is unconstitutional.
Justice Alito also questioned the government’s reasoning, saying: “Could the government say to a manufacturer of cell phones: ‘You can sell cellphones; however, every fifth one you have to give to us?’”
The Hornes’ case is the latest example of what some experts see as the growing attempt by government to prosecute private citizens and businesses for everyday activities.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule early this summer. If the Hornes lose, the total fine against the family could grow to as much as $1.5 million.
Watch the full video above to learn more about this story.