Sifting the wreckage deposited by the U.S. Supreme Court’s end-of-term decisions, it’s possible to find a handful of rulings for which we may be thankful. One of those affords some measure of protection to private citizens against government seizure of private property.
Notably, the favorable ruling in Horne v. U.S. Department of Agriculture came one day short of a decade after an abominable decision concerning eminent domain powers, tiptoeing toward correction of the Court’s mistake in Kelo v. New London.
We wrote several weeks ago about the Horne case, brought by a California raisin grower who balked at the seizure of large percentages of his crop by a New Deal relic called the Raisin Administrative Committee, the continued existence of which, if nothing else, proves that government overreach was not invented by the current crew of amateur totalitarians.
The Court ruled 8-1 that the government cannot confiscate personal property—raisins in this case but the possibilities are endless—without just compensation. An optimist might also conclude that a brick has been pulled out of the foundation of federal programs designed deliberately to distort pricing in agricultural markets.
In Michigan v. EPA, the Court again went halfway toward correcting bad behavior, this time by the Environmental Protection Agency. The Court ruled, 5-4 that the rogue EPA could not lawfully proceed to regulate power plant mercury emissions without considering the cost, but declined to vacate the rule in place since 2012. Further proceedings were ordered.
The Cato Institute’s Pat Michaels somewhat overstated the magnitude of the legal victory but in no way exaggerated the preposterous lengths the EPA has gone to justify what was, at its enactment, the costliest regulation ever.
Slim pickings, but steps in the right direction—and reminders of the judiciary’s limitations in securing our freedoms.