SCOTUS Hears Oral Arguments in Cedar Point Nursery’s Lawsuit Challenging California Union Law

On Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States heard Oral arguments in a property rights lawsuit challenging a California law that allows union organizers to access workplaces in order to advocate for their unions 120 days out of each year. 

The plaintiffs, Cedar Point Nursery and Fowler Packing Co., are both agricultural companies based in California. They argued that the unions should pay them for the burden of allowing the groups to use their property to educate farmworkers about unions. They purported that the disputed law is unconstitutional under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. The defendants claimed that without the law, it would be harder for unions to organize and could harm farmworkers. 

The Hill reported that there was no clear indication during the argument of what the Supreme Court’s ruling would be, citing the responses of multiple justices. The article explained that the pro-labor rights California law was made at a time when most seasonal workers lived at their worksites and coming to the property was one of the only ways unions could make contact with them.

Vox reported that “there are almost certainly five justices,” possibly nine, who believe the California law is unconstitutional. However, the article also said that even some conservative justices did not agree with the plaintiffs’ argument that the Constitution gives them the right to “exclude unwanted persons from private property,” citing the repercussions that this argument could have in restricting inspectors from entering workplaces. 

Several parties have filed amicus briefs in the lawsuit, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, a group of property law professors, and other labor rights groups. 

The petitioners are represented by Pacific Legal Foundation and Sagaser, Watkins & Wieland PC. The respondents are represented by the California Department of Justice.