Glickman v. Wileman Brothers & Elliott, Inc.

RESPONDENT:Wileman Brothers & Elliot
LOCATION:Arkansas State Capitol

DOCKET NO.: 95-1184
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-2005)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 521 US 457 (1997)
ARGUED: Dec 02, 1996
DECIDED: Jun 25, 1997

Alan Jenkins – Argued the cause for the petitioner
Thomas E. Campagne – Argued the cause for the respondent

Facts of the case

In 1937, Congress passed the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act (AMAA) to promote fair pricing and uniform marketing conditions in the agriculture business. Exempted from antitrust laws, the AMAA mandated uniform prices, product standards, and other conditions; all of which had to be approved by at least two-thirds of the affected producers and implemented by producer committees appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture. The AMAA’s administrative expenses were to be covered by assessments imposed on activities such as product advertising and promotion. After suffering adverse rulings at the administrative, District, and Circuit Court levels, a group of California tree fruit growers, handlers, and processors appealed their constitutional challenge of the AMAA to the Supreme Court – which granted certiorari.


Did the AMAA’s assessments on product advertising and promotion violate of the First Amendment’s freedom of speech protections?

Media for Glickman v. Wileman Brothers & Elliott, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – December 02, 1996 in Glickman v. Wileman Brothers & Elliott, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – June 25, 1997 in Glickman v. Wileman Brothers & Elliott, Inc.

The opinion of the Court in No. 95-1184, Glickman versus Wileman Brothers & Elliott will be announced by Justice Stevens.

This case arises out of a challenge by a number of a California handlers, growers and processors of tree fruits, and nectarines, peaches, and plums as I remember it, to a requirement that they pay assessments to fund a generic advertising program authorized by the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937.

That statute allows the Secretary of Agriculture to regulate a number of aspects of certain agricultural markets in order to maintain stability in those markets.

Among other things, the sec — Secretary has authorized to issue marketing orders that regulate the price, the quality, and the quantity of the commodity that may be marketed and insofar is relevant to this case.

The Secretary is authorized to have a generic advertising programs that are financed by assessments on those — on the people who are participants in the marketing order.

This case arises out of a challenge by a — various growers of these fruits to the program that covers the California marketing of — of the fruits.

The central messages in the generic advertising, is that California Summer Fruits are wholesome, delicious, and attractive to consumers.

The respondents refused to pay their assessments for the generic advertising and the Agriculture Department upheld the program as did the District Court.

The Court of Appeals, however, held that it violated the First Amendment.

Because the Ninth Circuit decision was in conflict with the decision of the Third Circuit raising a very similar question, we granted certiorari and today we reverse the Ninth Circuit.

We first note that the respondents claim that they disagree with the contents of specific ads that — because some of the ads they claim disadvantage particular producers as oppose to others.

Now the Court of Appeals, however, did not place any reliance on the content of the ads and we find the reliance misplaced in this case.

The question is whether the program, as a whole, if properly administered is constitutional and we conclude that it is.

The Court of Appeals relied on the fact that generic advertising may not be the most effective method of promoting the commodities that are being sold because the individual producers might be more successful if they could ad — advertise independently but we find this argument unpersuasive.

The regulatory scheme at issue does not abridge the freedom of speech as understood by our prior case law.

It does not restrain the ability of a producer to communicate any message to any audience.

It does not compel any person to engage in any actual or symbolic speech, and it does not compel producers to endorse political or ideological views.

Moreover, the ads are not attributed to a particular handlers, they’re — they represent the group as a whole.

The handlers argued that our decision in the case filed Abood against the Detroit Department of Education prohibits to compel financial contributions for other speech.

Abood in subsequent cases such as Keller against the State Bar Association of California did hold that an employee who objects to unions or union activities may only be required to contribute to activities that are germane to the goals of the association and that are not ideological.

The advertising in this case is germane to the goals of the marketing orders and it clearly is commercial rather than ideological.

While one may have doubts concerning the policy judgements to underly the marketing orders, those doubts do not justify relying on the First Amendment as a basis for re — reviewing what is essentially an economic regulation.

The generic advertising program is intended to increase consumer demand for the agricultural products and that purpose is legitimate and consistent with the goals of the overall program.

For those reasons, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

Justice Souter has filed a dissenting opinion in which the Chief Justice and Justice Scalia have joined entirely in which — and part of which Justice Thomas has joined and Justice Thomas has filed a dissenting opinion part of which Justice Scalia has joined.