U.S. Supreme Court

Scalia derides raisin program as 'central planning' in takings case

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Justice Antonin Scalia joined with other conservatives raising doubts about the constitutionality of a raisin set-aside program during oral arguments on Wednesday.

At issue is whether the Depression-era program, which is intended to stabilize raisin prices, amounts to an unconstitutional taking under the Fifth Amendment. The court appeared ready to strike down the program, report the Washington Post, the National Law Journal (sub. req.), the Los Angeles Times and USA Today.

According to the New York Times, some of the conservative justices reacted to the set asides with “scorn bordering on anger.”

“Central planning was thought to work very well in 1937,” Scalia remarked. “Russia tried it for a long time.”

Federal law authorizes a Raisin Administrative Committee to determine what portion of a raisin crop should be kept out of the market. Those raisins are then put in a reserve pool that may be sold overseas or used in school lunch programs, and any profits are given back to raisin producers.

The case is Horne v. Department of Agriculture.

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