Can Union Activists Storm Onto a Farmer’s Property?

This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid. For background on the case:

Cedar Point Nursery and Fowler Packing Company are California growers that produce fruit for millions of Americans. Collectively, they employ around 3,000 Californians. In 2015, the United Farm Workers (UFW) viewed the workers as ripe for the picking and sent union organizers to storm the workplaces during harvest time to encourage them to unionize. Even though property owners have a right to exclude trespassers, the state’s Union Access Regulation takes an easement that allows these union organizers to enter a business’s private property three hours a day, 120 days a year. The businesses are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate California’s unlawful regulation and affirm that government can’t allow unions to invade private property and disrupt commercial operations without paying compensation for a property taking.

The infamous Ninth Circuit ruled against Cedar, but as Pacific Legal pointed out:

Petitioners are being represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation.  In their brief to the Court, counsel to petitioners argued:

Petitioners’ proposed rule is simple—the government violates the Takings Clause when it appropriates an easement across private property for the benefit of third parties without compensation. The scope of the easement, including any time restrictions on access, is relevant only to the amount of compensation, not the determination that a taking has occurred. This rule is consistent with the Court’s precedent and limits the need for arbitrary line drawing that would be required if only the appropriation of certain easements were considered per se takings. The rule also protects the fundamental right of property owners to exclude trespassers from property. The right to exclude is too important to be left at the mercy of government officials who will inevitably seek as much public access as possible without paying for it. Property rights “cannot be so easily manipulated.” Horne, 576 U.S. at 365 (quoting Loretto, 458 U.S. at 439 n.17).

Questioning during today's oral arguments focused on how an easement should be characterized and what standard should be applied to determine whether a taking was present. As noted by the Cato Institute's Ilya Shapiro, the petitioners have a strong case and will hopefully succeed. 

The oral arguments for Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid can be listened to in there entirety here.

This Friday, RNLA will host a webinar featuring the Pacific Legal Foundation's Joshua Thompson as part of a discussion about the Biden Administration and unions. Thompson was the lead attorney who argued before the Supreme Court of petitioners in Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid earlier today. Sign up here to join RNLA for our webinar on Friday discussing the Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid case and more!