OKLAHOMA CITY – The U.S. Supreme Court today delivered a victory for property owners when it reversed a lower court’s decision regarding a California labor regulation on farmers.
The ruling said the regulation that allowed union organizers to come onto private farms without permission in order to recruit agricultural workers violated the constitutional rights of the farm owners when California refused to compensate the property owners for the entry. The regulation allowed union organizers to enter the private property for up to three hours a day, 120 days a year.
The Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office led briefs in support of two California fruit farms that challenged the union regulation.
Oklahoma Solicitor General Mithun Mansinghani said the ruling is a major victory for farmers and all others who value their property rights.
“The U.S. Supreme Court agreed with what we argued - private landowners have the right to choose who can be on their property, and when that property right is taken away, California must pay just compensation,” Mansinghani said. “Protecting property rights is fundamental to the Constitution. We applaud the U.S. Supreme Court and appreciate our colleagues who fought with us.”
In the 6 to 3 opinion, the Justices explained the founders recognized the protection of private property is indispensable to the promotion of individual freedom. As John Adams put it, “[p]roperty must be secured, or liberty cannot exist.”
The Supreme Court reiterated that “protection of property rights is ‘necessary to preserve freedom’ and ‘empowers persons to shape and to plan their own destiny in a world where governments are always eager to do so for them.’”
The Court held that the California regulation creates an unconstitutional taking of private property under the 5th Amendment because it forces the farms to allow non-employees access to their property without providing compensation to the property owner.