A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court has determined that the Ninth Circuit erred by failing to consider the unconstitutional takings defense raised by raisin growers who were subject to penalties and assessments for failure to pay assessments and set aside reserve-tonnage raisins under a Depression-era program intended to stabilize prices for agricultural commodities by limiting their quantity in the domestic competitive market. Horne v. USDA, No. 12-123 (U.S., decided June 10, 2013).

Pursuant to the Tucker Act, claims “for just compensation under the Takings Clause must be brought to the Court of Federal Claims in the first instance, unless Congress has withdrawn the Tucker Act grant of jurisdiction in the relevant statute.” The Court found that the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act (AMAA) of 1937 displaces Tucker Act jurisdiction and, because the raisin growers had no alternative remedy, “their takings claim was not ‘premature’ when presented to the Ninth Circuit.” The Court also found nothing in the AMAA to bar “handlers” from raising constitutional defenses to an enforcement action and remanded the case for the Ninth Circuit to consider the takings defense.