The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 today that a 66 year old program that allowed the federal government to confiscate the crops of farmers in order to manage the supply and demand was unconstitutional.
Writing for the court, Chief Justice John Roberts said the government must pay “just compensation” when it takes personal goods just as when it takes land away. He rejected the government’s argument that the Hornes voluntarily chose to participate in the raisin market and have the option of selling different crops if they don’t like it. “‘Let them sell wine’ is probably not much more comforting to the raisin growers than similar retorts have been to others throughout history,” Roberts said. “Property rights cannot be so easily manipulated.”
The Constitution on property rights is very clear. The government has to pay for any property it takes. That it required a Supreme Court decision to enforce this plain language should distress us all.