The Supreme Court debated whether a California law allowing access to farm property for workers’ organization should require payment under the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits private property acquisition without fair compensation.
The judges had put questions to both attorneys on the case – Joshua Thompson of the Pacific Legal Foundation, who represents Cedar Point Nursery and Fowler Packing Co., and Michael Mongan, California’s attorney general. (You can hear the arguments here.)
A key issue in the case is whether the law that gives union organizers access three hours a day, 120 days a year and prohibits interference with work activities is actually a “physical ingestion” for which compensation is due.
The problem for the court, however, is that its precedent is that regulations must either permanently have physically adequate property or withhold landowners from any beneficial use of their property in order to be considered income.
“I think this is not a classic relief,” said Mongan. “It doesn’t belong to any particular property. It is a regulatory system that applies to a specific type of business that is conducted in the countryside and access is not given to a specific route or package, but rather to the employees they are in. “
In a questioning of Justice Samuel Alito, Mongan said it was “deeply problematic” for the court to pass a rule that per se states “for any type of authorized interference, including limited interference,” approved by regulations.
Chief Justice John Roberts raised a question raised by many of the parties who supported the decision of the California Ag Labor Relations Board and the confirmation of that decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. A decision in this case would prevent government agencies from making that decision on their regulatory obligations.
Roberts asked why promoting peaceful industrial relations does not fall into the same category as safety inspections.
“Because there was no right under common law to let third party union organizers use your property,” Thompson said. “It is a right that if the government takes it, it must pay compensation.”
Common law, he said after arguments to Agri-Pulse, was difficult to define, but “what it means is that there are certain principles inherent in all property. Usually you have the right to exclude, but if you have one Are criminals. ” runs to your property and hides in your house, the police can safely follow him and pick him up. “
Thompson, however, distinguished the issue from government agencies’ right to conduct regulatory inspections, saying common law prohibits property owners from denying the government the right to enter their property.
Thompson said he couldn’t say how much compensation was due, but he didn’t think it was “minimal”. Still, he said, as the court ruled in a previous case, “even a minimal breach of the right of exclusion and even a minimal denial of that right would deserve compensation.”
Justice Elena Kagan said she does not believe denying the right to expel union officials “is considered a discrete interest in property”.
“The right of exclusion is one of the sticks in the bundle that a property owner has, but usually when talking about discrete interests in property. It’s like a legal form, “like a relief, she said.
Numerous pleadings in support of both sides have been submitted. Ag groups, including Western Growers, the American Farm Bureau Federation, and the California Farm Bureau Federation, are supporting the petitioner’s agribusinesses in the case, while law professors, labor lawyers, and five U.S. Senators are supporting the state. The states of Oklahoma, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, South Carolina, and Texas provided brief petitioner support, while Virginia, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington supported California.
The United States switched positions about a month before the dispute, withdrawing support for agribusiness, saying the ordinance would not result in an income.
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