Supreme Court Strikes Down California In Major Decision

( In a 6-3 ruling on Wednesday, the Supreme Court struck down a California regulation requiring agricultural owners to allow union organizers on their private land.

California regulators granted labor organizations the “right” to enter private, agricultural property in order to encourage workers to unionize as well as conduct up to three hours of union activities per day for a total of 120 days a year.

The court ruled this “right” to physically invade private property without compensation was unconstitutional.

The case involved Cedar Point Nursery, a California strawberry grower that employs one hundred full-time employees along with 400 seasonal workers. Cedar Point was forced to temporarily halt operations due to attempts by union organizers on the property to rally union support among employees.

According to Chief Justice Roberts, the union organizers were “calling through bullhorns” thus disturbing operations and causing some employees to stop working to join the organizers’ protest while other employees left the worksite entirely.

In its 6-3 ruling, the Court determined that the state regulation imposed an excessive use restriction on the property owner that amounted to a physical taking of the property that mandated compensation.

(The “Takings Clause” of the Fifth Amendment provides that no private property can be taken for public use without just compensation.)

According to the ruling, because the state government authorized this invasion of private property, the Takings Clause requiring just compensation applies.

The three Liberal Justices, Kagan, Breyer and Sotomayor dissented to the ruling.

In his dissent, Justice Breyer wrote that because the organizer’s activities were temporary, the Takings Clause did not apply, claiming that, under the Court’s ruling, “virtually every government-authorized invasion is an ‘appropriation.’”

Breyer argued that the California regulation does not “appropriate” anything. Instead, Breyer said, it simply regulates the owner’s “right to exclude” others from his property.

But Breyer’s argument was dismissed by the majority who maintained that “the right to exclude is ‘one of the most treasured’ rights of property ownership.”