NEWS & ANALYSIS

Supreme Court Rules Against California Unions in Farm Property Rights Case


The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a California law which allows union organizers property access to farms to organize workers is unconstitutional. 

The 6 to 3 decision argues that the law deprives farm owners of property rights without fair compensation. 

To no surprise, the six republican justices ruled for the business, while the three democrat justices dissented, ruling for the union, Fox News reports. 

“The right to exclude is ‘one of the most treasured’ rights of property ownership,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. “Accordingly, the growers’ complaint states a claim for an uncompensated taking in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.” 

The Fifth Amendment’s Taking Clause says private property cannot be “taken for public use, without just compensation.” 

The Golden State law provided union organizers access to property for organizing activities up to three hours per day during non-working hours for up to 120 day a year. Lawyers argue that it did no significant damage to business. 

“There is no indication that the access regulation poses a significant problem for California farms,” the state said in a brief. “Although there are more than 16,000 agricultural employers in California, petitioners’ statistics indicate that union organizers invoked the regulation to access the property of just 62 employees in 2015.” 

Roberts noted that lower courts said California law did not violate the Fifth Amendment because “it does not allow for permanent and continuous access.” 

However, he disagreed: “That position is insupportable as a matter of precedent and common sense.” 

“There is no reason the law should analyze an abrogation of the right to exclude in one manner if it extends for 365 days, but in an entirely different manner if it lasts for 364,” Roberts wrote.