U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court to Decide on Claimed 'Rube Goldberg Approach' to Takings Claim for Raisin Set-Asides


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Raisin producers who claimed they weren’t covered by a government-mandated set-aside program have persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether they can raise a takings defense in California federal court.

The Supreme Court granted cert last Tuesday, SCOTUSblog, McClatchy News and Reuters report.

The raisin producers are vineyard operators who claimed they weren’t covered by set-aside orders because they process their own grapes into raisins, and thus aren’t raisin handlers covered by the set-aside mandate. The Agriculture Department disagreed and sought to compel the operators to obey set-aside requirements. The vineyards raised the takings defense when they appealed in federal court in California under exclusive jurisdiction provisions.

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled it didn’t have jurisdiction and the raisin producers should take their takings claim to the Court of Federal Claims.

According to the cert petition, (PDF), the 9th Circuit opinion would require the raisin producers to assert all but the takings defense in federal court, pay the government if unsuccessful, and then sue the government in the Court of Federal Claims. In an amicus brief (PDF), the Cato Institute labels the multiple court trips a “Rube Goldberg approach to adjudicating takings claims.”

The plaintiffs are represented by former federal appeals judge Michael McConnell, a Stanford University law professor. The case is Horne v. U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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