Nov 8, 2010
Grape commission doesn’t violate free speech

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a lower-court ruling that had determined that the law establishing the California Table Grape Commission and authorizing its programs does not violate the First Amendment, ending a federal constitutional challenge against the commission that has been pending for more than 14 years, according to the grape commission.

In April 2008, U.S. District Court Judge Oliver Wanger rejected a First Amendment challenge to the commission’s programs, concluding, among other things, that the speech of the commission, a creation of the state legislature, is that of the government and therefore immune from constitutional challenge.

That decision was appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals, which upheld it in November 2009. The plaintiffs in the case asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeals’ decision, but on Oct. 5 the Supreme Court announced that it would not do so. As a result, the Court of Appeals’ decision now marks the final resolution of the case, according to the commission.

“Since 1967, the majority of California’s fresh grape farmers have looked to the commission to help increase demand for their product,” said Kathleen Nave, the commission’s president. “Every five years, they have voted to continue working together, through the commission, because it makes a difference. This case has been a cloud over their efforts, and it is a welcome relief to finally have it end in their favor.”

The California Table Grape Commission was created by the California legislature in 1967 to increase worldwide demand for fresh California grapes through a variety of research and promotional programs, according to the commission.

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