Raisins are certainly not the most inspiring topic. But for one day, the word “raisin” is synonymous with the word “freedom.” That’s because in a landmark decision, the United States Supreme Court yesterday held that the government cannot take a farmer’s crops and give nothing in return. The story, which began 80 years ago in the New Deal era, has finally reached its long-deserved end.
In an 8-1 opinion, the Court held that the Raisin Administrative Committee (RAC) cannot take a farmer’s raisin crop to be destroyed under the guise of regulating prices while providing no compensation. The RAC is one of the many products of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s thoroughly debunked (yet unfortunately very much alive) economic ideas regarding government intervention in the economy.
The Court made clear that engaging in commerce is not merely a privilege granted by the government. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Roberts stated:
In one of the years at issue here, the Government insisted that the Hornes turn over 47 percent of their raisin crop, in exchange for the “benefit” of being allowed to sell the remaining 53 percent. The next year, the toll was 30 percent…Selling produce in interstate commerce, although certainly subject to reasonable government regulation, is similarly not a special governmental benefit that the Government may hold hostage, to be ransomed by the waiver of constitutional protection.
So remember, the next time you eat a raisin, that your raisins are just a little freer than they were yesterday.