Rule of Law

Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid

In Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid, the Supreme Court is considering whether a California labor regulation allowing union representatives to visit private farmland constitutes a per se violation of the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Case Summary

The Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment provides that private property shall not “be taken for public use, without just compensation.”  A California state regulation allows labor organizers onto private agricultural property during non-work time on a limited number of days to “talk[] with employees and solicit[] their support.”  Labor organizers’ access to this property is strictly limited.  The California regulation stipulates when, for how long, and where exactly labor organizers may access the property to speak with agricultural employees, and it specifically forbids “conduct disruptive of the employer’s property or agricultural operations.”  In this case, owners of private agricultural properties have challenged the California regulation, arguing that it violates the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the challenged regulation does not amount to a per se taking of property within the bounds of the Clause.  Petitioners (the agricultural employers) asked the Supreme Court to hear the case, and the Court agreed to do so.  CAC filed an amicus brief in support of Respondents urging the Court to affirm the Ninth Circuit’s judgment.

Our brief makes two key points.  First, at the time of the Founding, the Framers understood that the Takings Clause would prohibit only actual appropriations of private property.  Indeed, for decades following the Amendment’s ratification, the Supreme Court refused to extend the Clause beyond actual appropriations.  While the Court has since held that the Takings Clause also applies to the functional equivalent of a physical appropriation of property, it has only recognized two categories of regulations that it considers tantamount to actual appropriations such that they amount to takings per se: (1) regulations that involve a permanent physical invasion of property and (2) regulations that render the property completely valueless.

Second, our brief argues that the California regulation at issue does not amount to a taking per se because it does not fall within either of these carefully limited categories.  The regulation allows certain people to visit private property during non-work hours on a set number of days each year, and it specifically forbids conduct that would disrupt work on the property.  As a result, there is no permanent physical invasion of property, and the property is in no way rendered valueless.

Case Timeline

  • February 12, 2021

    CAC files amicus curiae brief

    Sup. Ct. Amicus Br.
  • March 22, 2021

    The Supreme Court will hear oral argument