AG Files SCOTUS Brief Opposing California Union Regulation

Mike Seals - September 3, 2020 12:11 am

Brief: Regulation amounts to a physical taking of private property

OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter today filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the justices to review a lower court’s decision regarding a California labor regulation that allows union organizers to enter the private property of agricultural producers for up to three hours a day, 120 days a year.

The brief, in support of two California fruit farms that challenged the union regulation, argues it creates an unconstitutional taking of private property under the 5th Amendment because it forces the farms to allow access to non-employees to their property without providing compensation.

In 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit rejected the claim brought by the companies, finding that there is no physical taking when a right of entry has time restrictions.

Attorney General Hunter said that the U.S. Constitution protects citizens’ property from this type of burdensome takeover.

“This is about protecting private property rights and standing against another absurd California regulation that amounts to a physical invasion of private property,” Attorney General Hunter said. “There is well-established precedent that protects farmers and other landowners from this type of extreme directive. If upheld, the decision by the Ninth Circuit stands to directly harm private property interests in states across the nation. It is vital for my colleagues and I to stand up for these farms and protect private property owners in our states.”

Signing the brief with Attorney General Hunter were attorneys general from six states.

The brief acknowledges that while the sign-on states and their citizens are not California residents, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit’s decision has implications beyond California.

The federal government’s eminent domain power, or the ability to take private property for public use, is controlled by the Takings Clause of the 5th Amendment. If the 9th Circuit’s decision stands, it would give the federal government more power to invoke eminent domain in other states.

The attorney general writes that states have a longstanding commitment to protecting private property rights.

“It is a universal principle that wherever an individual’s right of property ownership is recognized in a free government, other rights become worthless if the government possesses uncontrollable power over the property of the individual,” the brief contends. “The constitutional guaranty of the right to own and use property is unquestioned.”

Read the brief, here:


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