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Supreme Court Chews Over Case Pitting Raisin Farmers Against USDA

Publication Date: 
March 20, 2013
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Michael Doyle

Professor Michael W. McConnell, who is representing Marvin Horne in Horne v. Department of Agriculture,  jokingly noted during the case's oral arguments that the technicalities of the case have created a  “jurisdictional holding that is producing so much enjoyment."

Nearly a dozen burly California raisin growers watched intently Wednesday as Supreme Court justices struggled to figure out how their industry works.

During an hour-long oral argument, the justices peppered lawyers with questions that increasingly suggested some sympathy for the growers, who are protesting a big Agriculture Department penalty.


The technicalities of the case seemed to fog the court for a while Wednesday, with farmers’ attorney Michael W. McConnell joking sardonically at one point about the “jurisdictional holding that is producing so much enjoyment for us this morning.”


Horne, Jerkovich and other farmers flew out for the argument, along with Clovis, Calif.-based attorney Brian C. Leighton, a longtime marketing order skeptic who joined McConnell at the lawyers’ table. McConnell is a former federal judge who teaches at Stanford Law School, in addition to working in private practice.