Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid

141 S. Ct. 2063 (2021)

Quick Summary

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Cedar Point Nursery and Fowler Packing Company (plaintiffs) challenged a California regulation allowing union organizers onto their properties for specific periods to advocate for unionization, claiming it was an unconstitutional taking without compensation.

The dispute centered on whether this regulation constituted a per se physical taking under constitutional amendments mandating just compensation for seized private property.

The Supreme Court concluded that the regulation did result in a per se physical taking, reversing the lower court’s decision and emphasizing the fundamental property right to exclude others. The majority held that government-mandated access equates to a compensable taking, while the dissent warned of broader implications for regulatory practices.

Facts of the Case

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Cedar Point Nursery (plaintiff), a strawberry grower in California, faced an unexpected intrusion when members of the United Farm Workers union entered their property to rally employees for union support. This incident was enabled by a California regulation that permitted labor organizations to access agricultural properties for such activities.

Fowler Packing Company (plaintiff), another agricultural business in California, encountered a similar situation when union organizers sought entry into their property but were denied access, leading to an unfair labor practice charge against Fowler.

The crux of the dispute stemmed from the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act’s regulation, which the plaintiffs argued amounted to a physical taking of their property without just compensation, in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

The regulation allowed union organizers to access the growers’ property for a set number of days and hours each year to interact with employees, which the plaintiffs contended infringed upon their right to exclude others from their property.

Procedural Posture and History

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  1. Cedar Point Nursery filed a lawsuit in federal district court against the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (defendant), claiming the regulation violated the Takings Clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.
  2. The district court ruled in favor of the board, stating that the regulation did not constitute a per se physical taking as it did not grant permanent and continuous access to the property.
  3. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision.
  4. The matter was escalated to the United States Supreme Court upon appeal by Cedar Point Nursery.

I.R.A.C. Format


Issue Icon

Whether a California regulation that grants labor organizations the right to access agricultural employers’ property for union activities constitutes a per se physical taking under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, thus requiring just compensation.

Rule of Law

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Under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, applicable through the Fourteenth Amendment, private property cannot be taken for public use without just compensation. A government-authorized physical invasion of property is traditionally considered a taking requiring just compensation.

Reasoning and Analysis

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The Supreme Court held that the California regulation constituted a per se physical taking as it appropriated a right to invade the growers’ property. The right to exclude is a fundamental element of property rights, and any government action that results in a physical appropriation of property is subject to a per se rule: The government must pay for what it takes.

The Court determined that limitations on access do not convert a physical taking into a mere use restriction simply because access is limited in time or scope. The Court differentiated between permanent physical invasions, which are always takings, and temporary invasions, which are assessed on a case-by-case basis using the Penn Central balancing test.

However, it concluded that the regulation here granted more than mere temporary access; it created an easement-like right to invade that significantly impinged upon the owners’ right to exclude.


Conclusion Icon

The Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit’s ruling and remanded the case, establishing that California’s access regulation is a per se physical taking requiring just compensation.

Dissenting Opinions

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Justice BREYER, joined by Justices SOTOMAYOR and KAGAN, dissented, arguing that the regulation does not appropriate anything but rather regulates the employer’s right to exclude.

The dissenting opinion emphasized that such temporary invasions are not automatic takings but should be evaluated under the Penn Central test to determine if they go ‘too far.’ The dissent expressed concern that the majority’s ruling could complicate many forms of regulation that require temporary entry onto private property.

Key Takeaways

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  1. The Supreme Court ruled that government regulations granting third-party access to private property can constitute a per se physical taking.
  2. The decision emphasizes the importance of an owner’s right to exclude as central to property rights under the Fifth Amendment.
  3. The ruling may have wide-reaching implications for various regulatory schemes that involve temporary access to private property.

Relevant FAQs of this case

What constitutes a per se physical taking under the Fifth Amendment?

A per se physical taking occurs when the government or its agents require access to or occupation of private property that markedly impinges on the property owner’s rights, especially the right to exclude others, without providing just compensation.

  • For example: If a city ordinance requires homeowners to allow public walking paths through their yards, this could be deemed a per se physical taking as it significantly disrupts the homeowner’s exclusive domain over their property.

How does regulatory action impact property owners' exclusive rights?

Regulatory actions may impose certain limitations or obligations on property owners that can affect their ability to fully exercise their exclusive rights, such as dispossession, use, and enjoyment. However, if the imposition translates into a physical occupation of the property or a significant disturbance of the owner’s exclusive rights, it may necessitate compensation.

  • For example: A law mandating landlords to permit utility companies to install lines or meters in rental properties impacts the landlord’s control over the property but whether it’s compensable depends on the extent of invasion and interference with exclusive rights.

When is just compensation required for government takings?

Just compensation is mandated when the government undertakes any action resulting in the taking of private property for public use. This includes both physical appropriations and regulatory enactments that functionally deprive an owner of all economically viable use of their property.

  • For example: If a new highway expansion requires taking part of a private landowner’s property, the government must compensate the owner for the fair market value of the appropriated land area.


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