LOS ANGELES, June 23, 2015 — For the first time since they last sang “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” in 1988, the California Raisins came back in the spotlight in a big way. While most political junkies obsess over terrorism, the economy and social issues, the big story on Monday involved shriveled grapes. The fight over a South Carolina flag was symbolic, but raisins became serious business.
The United States Supreme Court handed down its decision in the case of Horne v. Department of Agriculture. Marvin Horne is a raisin farmer who was living a non-controversial life until the federal government decided it could confiscate his raisins without compensating him fair market value.
President Obama represented the government, which insisted that government can do whatever it wants to private citizens simply because he says so.
The POTUS was raisin’ hell over the SCOTUS raisin decision. Luckily for farmers and ranchers everywhere, the president did not and does not have the last word on the subject.
The Supreme Court slapped Obama down hard. There is no sugar-coating this raisin decision. Obama was rebuked. His government was dismissed as out-of-control. Only Justice Sonia Sotomayor offered tortured legal logic that the government could partially destroy a business as long as the destruction was not total and complete. The other eight justices dismissed this argument as nonsense.
The other three liberal justices tried to protect Obama by recommending that the case be returned to the lower court. This would give the lower court a chance to right their wrong. The five conservative justices nixed that idea in favor of common sense. The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness means exactly that. John Locke said “liberty is property,” and the strict constructionist justices agreed.
The specific constitutional section dealing with this case was the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment, which makes it clear that private property may not be taken for public use without just compensation.
While Chief Justice John Roberts prefers narrow rulings, this case will have far-reaching tentacles. President Obama has used every power at his disposal to expand the government’s power because he heads the government. He has yet to find a political situation where the solution was anything other of more government as administered by him.The man who swept into office on a wave of “Yes, we can” does not take kindly to being told “No, you can’t.”
President Obama has a habit of insisting that his views represent the mainstream and those with differing views are malevolent extremists. The former lightly regarded adjunct law professor has had many more 9-0 rulings against him than his predecessor. This time eight out of nine justices disagreed with his argument.
The victory for California raisin growers was unambiguous. President Obama is left with sour grapes.