Justices strike down California rule allowing unions access to farms

The Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with California farm owners in a labor dispute, striking down a state rule that granted union organizers access to agricultural sites.

The court divided 6-3 along ideological lines, with the conservative majority of justices finding that the rule was unconstitutional.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion that the regulation "grants labor organizations a right to invade the growers’ property," which violates the Constitution's Fourth and Fifth Amendments.


"Unlike a mere trespass, the regulation grants a formal entitlement to physically invade the growers’ land," Roberts wrote. "Unlike a law enforcement search, no traditional background principle of property law requires the growers to admit union organizers onto their premises. And unlike standard health and safety inspections, the access regulation is not germane to any benefit provided to agricultural employers or any risk posed to the public."

All three justices in the court's more liberal wing dissented, joining an opinion written by Justice Stephen BreyerStephen BreyerSenate panel votes to make women register for draft Biden's belated filibuster decision: A pretense of principle at work Klobuchar: If Breyer is going to retire from Supreme Court, it should be sooner rather than later MORE, who pushed back against the majority's characterization of the rule as violating farm owners' property rights.

"The Court holds that the provision’s 'access to organizers' requirement amounts to a physical appropriation of property," Breyer wrote. "In its view, virtually every government-authorized invasion is an 'appropriation.' But this regulation does not 'appropriate' anything; it regulates the employers’ right to exclude others."

"In my view, the majority’s conclusion threatens to make many ordinary forms of regulation unusually complex or impractical," Breyer added.

The case arose out of a dispute between United Farm Workers and two California farm owners, Cedar Point Nursery and Fowler Packing Company.