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Property Rights

Hands Off My Raisins: Supreme Court Decides Horne v. Department of Agriculture - Podcast

Environmental Law & Property Rights Practice Group Podcast
John Elwood June 25, 2015

Under what circumstances can the government take your property without giving you compensation? Does it matter whether it is real property or personal property? On June 22, with an interesting alignment of justices, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Horne v. Department of Agriculture, addressing these and other questions.

  • John Elwood, Partner, Vinson & Elkins LLP

The Grasping Hand: "Kelo v. City of New London" and the Limits of Eminent Domain - Podcast

Environmental Law & Property Rights Practice Group Podcast
Richard A. Epstein, Ilya Somin June 05, 2015

On June 23, 2005, the Supreme Court ruled that the city of New London, Connecticut, could condemn fifteen residential properties in order to transfer them to a new private owner. Although the Fifth Amendment only permits the taking of private property for "public use," the Court ruled that the transfer of condemned land to private parties for "economic development" is permitted by the Constitution. In his new book, published by the University of Chicago Press, The Grasping Hand: "Kelo v. City of New London" and the Limits of Eminent Domain, Prof. Ilya Somin argues that the closely divided 5-4 ruling in Kelo was a grave error. Prof. Somin provides a detailed study of the case, as well as of the new laws intended to limit the use of eminent domain passed in forty-five states during the political backlash following the decision, alongside a broader history of the dispute over public use and eminent domain and an evaluation of options for reform.

With the 10th anniversary of the Kelo decision approaching, Prof. Somin joined a Teleforum program to discuss the book, with Prof. Richard Epstein joining to offer his comments.

  • Prof. Ilya Somin, Author, The Grasping Hand: "Kelo v. City of New London" and the Limits of Eminent Domain, and Professor of Law, George Mason University School of Law
  • Prof. Richard A. Epstein, Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law, New York University School of Law

Hana Financial v. Hana Bank - Post-Decision SCOTUScast

SCOTUScast 5-11-15 featuring Michael Risch
Michael Risch May 11, 2015

On January 21, 2014, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Hana Financial, Inc. v. Hana Bank. This trademark case involved a rule called "tacking", which permits the owner of a trademark to modify the trademark without losing the priority established by being the first user of the trademark. Tacking, however, is only permitted as long as the modified trademark establishes "the same, continuing commercial impression so that consumers consider both as the same mark."

The question in this case was whether the judge or the jury should determine whether a consumer would consider the original trademark and the modified trademark to be the same.

In an opinion delivered by Justice Sotomayor, the Court unanimously held that the jury, rather than a court, should determine whether the use of an older trademark may be tacked to a newer one.  The judgment of the Ninth Circuit was affirmed.

To discuss the case, we have Michael Risch, who is a Professor of Law at the Villanova University School of Law.

Raisin Growers Back in the Supreme Court – Horne v. USDA - Podcast

Environmental Law & Property Rights Practice Group Podcast
John Elwood April 23, 2015

Under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, the USDA has authority to regulate the sale of certain agricultural products, including California-grown raisins, through the use of “marketing orders.” The marketing order specific to California-grown raisins directs the Raisin Administrative Committee, a branch of the USDA, to establish a yearly raisin tonnage reserve requirement. Every year in February, raisin farmers are told what percentage of their crop is the “reserve requirement” they must turn over to the Committee. Failure to comply results in fines and penalties. In 2002 and 2003, the Horne family refused to comply and was fined over $700,000. In a 2013 decision, the United States Supreme Court unanimously held that regulated entities cannot be compelled to pay regulatory fines before they may contest their constitutionality, under the Fifth Amendment’s protection against uncompensated government seizure of private property (the Takings Clause). On remand in Horne, the federal district court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that there was no taking. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on April 22, 2015, and considered three questions: (1) Whether the government's “categorical duty” under the Fifth Amendment to pay just compensation when it “physically takes possession of an interest in property” applies only to real property and not to personal property; (2) whether the government may avoid the categorical duty to pay just compensation for a physical taking of property by reserving to the property owner a contingent interest in a portion of the value of the property, set at the government's discretion; and (3) whether a governmental mandate to relinquish specific, identifiable property as a “condition” on permission to engage in commerce effects a per se taking.

  • John Elwood, Partner, Vinson & Elkins LLP

Does the Government's seizure of raisins violate the Takings Clause?

Short video with Ilya Somin discussing Horne v. USDA
Ilya Somin April 21, 2015

George Mason Law School Professor Ilya Somin previews an upcoming Supreme Court case in which Farmer Horne objects to an obscure government program stemming from 1930’s New Deal legislation in which raisin farmers are required to surrender a percentage of their crop to the Raisin Administrative Committee.  Petitioner and farmer Horne claims that being forced to turn over a percentage of his raisin crop to the government violates the Takings Clause of the 5th Amendment. The government asserts that the Takings Clause does not apply to personal property, and even if it did, that Horne is fairly compensated because his overall profits are increased.

Professor Somin co-signed the amicus brief of Constitutional and Property Law Scholars in support of petitioner.

As always, the Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues; all expressions of opinion are those of the speaker.