It seemed a narrow case, one of those of no interest to anyone but the parties involved. A law that gave the federal government the right to bring trucks into the fields of raisin producers and seize a portion of their crop for price stabilization, a heavy-booted relic of the Great Depression, was at long last struck by the U.S. Supreme Court. It only took about 70 years – 13 years for this final case to wind its way to Washington. The growers who won the case first filed in 2002.
And it may well, in the end, stay a small case. After all, it takes the government physically seizing property without paying for it before it becomes automatically illegal. Even that, mind you, is an improvement on the past, where it was questionable whether anything other than real estate triggered the Fifth Amendment’s protection against Takings. So that much has improved already.
But the case may herald bigger things. Is the role of Government in the economy coming under greater judicial scrutiny? Are other forms for stabilization and subsidies ripe for review? That is a subject of optimism for libertarians and dread for Keynesians. It is, also, a subject of curiosity for appellate attorneys.