Town Halls


The Court Weighs in on Government Threats to Family Farms & Traditional Families

Horne v. USDA begins at 2:10
Obergefell v. Hodges begins at 17:31

In this tele-townhall, Dr. John C. Eastman is joined by several long-time friends of the Claremont Institute—Chapman University’s Professor Anthony T. Caso, the Cato Institute’s Ilya Shapiro, and Regent University's Lynne Marie Kohm—for a fascinating discussion and debate about two landmark Supreme Court cases: Horne v. USDA and Obergefell v. Hodges.

The principle that government must recognize private property rights dates back to the Magna Carta and was enshrined in our Constitution’s Fifth Amendment. But the federal government has been eroding these rights for decades, often with the Supreme Court's blessing. Since the New Deal, the USDA’s Raisin Administrative Committee (RAC) has managed the supply of raisins through yearly marketing orders to farmers. The RAC instructs farmers as to how much of their crop they must turn over to the federal government and what compensation, if any, they will receive in return. The RAC is then free to dispose of the raisins as they see fit, including selling or giving them away.

In 2003, the Hornes, owners of a small family farm, decided enough was enough. They wrote a letter to the USDA stating they would not hand over 30% of their crop without compensation. The Supreme Court heard their case on April 22, 2015.

Dr. Eastman and his guests also dig into the details of Obergefell v. Hodges (Question 1, Question 2), in which the Supreme Court considers the legality of state laws upholding traditional marriage. Although 35 states passed laws or constitutional amendments preserving the traditional definition of marriage, these laws stand in jeopardy after lower courts ruled they violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.

The threshold question the Court seeks to answer is whether heterosexual and homosexual couples are “similarly situated” in a way that relates to the purpose of the laws being challenged—in this case, the state laws protecting traditional marriage. In the past, the Court recognized that states historically have involved themselves in marriage because it is the principle structure society uses for procreation and raising children.