Invasion of Private Property on the Supreme Court Docket

Invasion of Private Property on the Supreme Court Docket

Mar 05, 2021 Daniel Turner

On March 22, significant property-rights issues are at stake as the Pacific Legal Foundation argues before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Cedar Point Nursery in Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid.

The owners of Cedar Point Nursery are challenging a California regulation that allows union organizers to come onto their property without warning for three hours per day, 120 days per year. This regulation dates from an era when workers lived on their employers’ property, rarely accessing the outside world. As one can imagine, current Cedar Point employees live off-site and are not cut off from the world or the union.

At first glance, this case might seem remote from the circumstances of the average citizen. At stake, however, is the right not only of growers but also of all Americans to choose who enters their property. Without the right to exclude unwanted third parties, private property is no longer “private” in nature. Imagine if a state passed a law allowing people to enter one’s home 120 days per year. Depending on the Court’s ruling, that possibility is not far-fetched.

Fifteen amicus briefs have been filed to urge the court to rule in favor of Cedar Point Nursery. These briefs advance five important arguments. 

These friend-of-the-court briefs highlight the importance of this case in safeguarding private property rights, and flesh out the issues at stake.

The Supreme Court’s decision later this summer could clarify a major point of the law—namely, has a taking occurred when the government does not take property outright, but rather seriously interferes with ownership via regulations that allow access by third parties? Ultimately, the matter at stake is the fundamental right of a property owner to choose who enters his or her property. A regulation that prevents owners from excluding others from their property constitutes total interference with that right.