JUST COMPENSATION

Marvin D. Horne, et al., v. Department of Agriculture

In 2002, California raisin farmers Marvin and Lena Horne (“Horne”) substantially reorganized their raisin business in order to handle the raisins that they produced to try to avoid the requirement under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 (“AMAA”) to turn over a percentage of handled raisins to the government. After Horne’s failure to comply, the USDA brought an action against Horne according to the required AMAA procedure. Although the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals initially ruled against Horne on his takings claim, the Ninth Circuit amended its opinion and determined that Horne’s takings claim was “unripe” because Horne had to raise his takings claim in the Court of Federal Claims pursuant to the Tucker Act. Horne and the USDA disagree over whether Horne’s takings claim is ripe for adjudication; the USDA believes that the claim is unripe until Horne pursues it in the Court of Federal Claims. Specifically, the USDA believes that the AMAA does not displace the Tucker Act’s otherwise-mandatory procedures, while Horne asserts that the AMAA’s comprehensive statutory scheme displaces the Tucker Act for all related claims. Horne states that such a requirement mandates costly, duplicative litigation, while the USDA counters that such a result is the desired outcome of the statutory scheme.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties: 

1. Whether the Ninth Circuit erred in holding, contrary to the decisions of five other Circuit Courts of Appeals, that a party may not raise the Takings Clause as a defense to a "direct transfer of funds mandated by the Government," Eastern Enterprises v. Apfel, 524 U.S. 498, 521 (1998) (plurality), but instead must pay the money and then bring a separate, later claim requesting reimbursement of the money under the Tucker Act in the Court of Federal Claims. 

2. Whether the Ninth Circuit erred in holding, contrary to a decision of the Federal Circuit, that it lacked jurisdiction over petitioners' takings defense, even though petitioners, as "handlers" of raisins under the Raisin Marketing Order, are statutorily required under 7 U.S.C. § 608c(15) to exhaust all claims and defenses in administrative proceedings before the United States Department of Agriculture, with exclusive jurisdiction for review in federal district court.

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Issue

May raisin farmers raise the Takings Clause as a defense to a USDA order requiring them to pay a monetary equivalent to a portion of their crop, or must they litigate non-takings defenses in the government enforcement action, pay the disputed amount to the government if liable, and then file suit in the Court of Federal Claims to recover their money?

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Arkansas Game and Fish Commission v. United States (11-597)

Petitioner, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (the “Commission”) sued Respondent, the United States, for a violation of the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, which compels the government to compensate parties when the government physically seizes property. Specifically, the Commission argues that the United States Army Corps of Engineers (the “Corps”) permanently destroyed trees in a bottomland hardwood forest in Arkansas by intermittently flooding the forest for six years. The United States asserts that the actions of the Corps did not constitute a taking because the Corps did not oust the Commission of possession of the forest, and only a continuous invasion qualifies as a physical taking. The Supreme Court’s decision in this case will determine whether a temporary invasion is a taking which will affect the meaning of the Takings Clause as it is used in future disputes concerning the destruction of property. 

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties: 

Petitioner Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, a constitutional entity of the State of Arkansas, sought just compensation from the United States under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment for physically taking its bottomland hardwood timber through six consecutive years of protested flooding during the sensitive growing season. The Court of Federal Claims awarded $5.7 million, finding that the Army Corps of Engineers' actions foreseeably destroyed and degraded more than 18 million board feet of timber, left habitat unable to regenerate, and preempted Petitioner's use and enjoyment.

The Federal Circuit, with its unique jurisdiction over takings claims, reversed the trial judgment on a single point of law. Contrary to this Court's precedent, a sharply divided 2-1 panel ruled that the United States did not inflict a taking because its actions were not permanent and the flooding eventually stopped. The Federal Circuit denied rehearing en banc in a fractured 7-4 vote.

The question presented is: Whether government actions that impose recurring flood invasions must continue permanently to take property within the meaning of the Takings Clause.

Issue

Under the Fifth Amendment, does temporary, government-induced flooding require compensation to the owner of the flooded property?

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