How did the Chief Justice Not Cite Pierson v. Post for “Feræ Naturæ”?!

June 22nd, 2015

In the Chief’s decision in Horne v. USDA, he discusses the fact that oysters, unlike raisins, are farae naturae:

Leonard & Leonard v. Earle, 279 U. S. 392 (1929), is also readily distinguishable. In that case, the Court up­ held a Maryland requirement that oyster packers remit ten percent of the marketable detached oyster shells or their monetary equivalent to the State for the privilege of harvesting the oysters. But the packers did “not deny the power of the State to declare their business a privilege,” and the power of the State to impose a “privilege tax” was “not questioned by counsel.” Id., at 396. The oysters, unlike raisins, were “feræ naturæ” that belonged to the State under state law, and “[n]o individual ha[d] any property rights in them other than such as the state may permit him to acquire.” Leonard v. Earle, 155 Md. 252, 258, 141 A. 714, 716 (1928). The oyster packers did not simply seek to sell their property; they sought to appropri­ ate the State’s. Indeed, the Maryland Court of Appeals saw the issue as a question of “a reasonable and fair com­ pensation” from the packers to “the state, as owner of the oysters.” Id., at 259, 141 A., at 717 (internal quotation marks omitted).

Raisins are not like oysters: they are private property— the fruit of the growers’ labor—not “public things subject to the absolute control of the state,” id., at 258, 141 A., at 716. Any physical taking of them for public use must be accompanied by just compensation.

Come on. Kagan cited Spiderman. Roberts should have cited Pierson v. Post.

We are the more readily inclined to confine possession or occupancy of beasts feræ naturæ, within the limits prescribed by the learned authors above cited, for the sake of certainty, and preserving peace and order in society.

Property students are disappointed.