New law singles out people to be punished without a trial

“The case involves AB 1513, a state law that created an affirmative defense for agricultural businesses in the wake of surprising California court decisions,” says attorney Wen Fa of the Pacific Legal Foundation.

The law protects all California agricultural producers except two who have challenged the political elites in Sacramento.

“This affirmative defense was available to every employer except for Fowler Packing and Gerawan Farming — both of which had been sued by the Union’s general counsel in the past. The carve-outs to AB 1513 allowed those lawsuits to go forward,” Fa says.

Fowler and Gerawan filed suit in federal court to challenge the law that singles them out. The Pacific Legal Foundation filed an amicus brief in support of the two, representing seven organizations — including the California Farm Bureau Federation, California Fresh Fruit Association, and Western Grower.

The law imposes punishment on political opponents

“My argument focused on the main point of contention between the parties: Do the carve-outs impose punishment as originally understood by its drafters?” said Fa. “I argued that the carve-outs cannot survive scrutiny regardless of the answer.”

“A court looks at a combination of three factors (historical, functional, and motivational) in determining whether a legislative act imposes punishment. Thus, the carve-outs impose punishment because they function as such (subjecting Fowler and Gerawan to massive liability) and are motivated by punitive intent (AB 1513’s author branded Fowler and Gerawan as ‘potential bad actors’),” the foundation attorney said.