Sometimes old laws should be put out to pasture for everyone’s sake.

Have you ever heard the expression, “Rules were made to be broken?” Many rules are good, and our society would be in even worse shape than it is now if rules were not in place and enforced. But every once in a while we run across a rule that deserves to be buried in the past. This particular one is as wrinkled as a raisin.

There is a law dating back to the Harry S. Truman Administration that allows the U.S. government to seize a portion of farmers’ raisin crops. Specifically, as described in a recent edition of the Washington Post, the law gives the government power to interfere with the supply and demand for dried grapes.

In order to avoid supply outstripping demand – and thereby lowering the price of dried fruits such as grapes – the government sometimes seizes raisins to keep them off the U.S. market. A raisin farmer living in Kerman, California, has been ignoring this law for the past 11 years, believing that it should have been dissolved decades ago.

Because Marvin Horne has been defying the law for so long, he owes at least $650,000 in unpaid fines and 1.2 million pounds of unpaid raisins. A lower court rejected Horne’s challenge of the law, but the Supreme Court has told that court to reconsider it.

Horne calls the law “robbery,” “socialism,” “communism” and “feudalism,” while one of the Supreme Court justices said that it might be “the world’s most outdated law.”

What do you think? Do you believe that the government should have the right to seize a portion of a farmer’s raisin crops because a law from the midpoint of the 20th century says so? What would you do if you were that farmer?


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