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JOHANNS, SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, et al. v. LIVESTOCK MARKETING ASSOCIATION et al., 544 U.S. ---

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JOHANNS, SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, et al. v. LIVESTOCK MARKETING ASSOCIATION et al.

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE EIGHTH CIRCUIT

No. 03-1164.Argued December 8, 2004--Decided May 23, 2005*

The Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985 (Beef Act) establishes a federal policy of promoting and marketing beef and beef products. The Secretary of Agriculture has implemented the Act through a Beef Promotion and Research Order (Order), which creates a Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board (Beef Board) and an Operating Committee, and imposes an assessment, or "checkoff," on all sales and importation of cattle. The assessment funds, among other things, beef promotional campaigns approved by the Operating Committee and the Secretary. Respondents, associations whose members pay the checkoff and individuals whose cattle are subject to the checkoff, challenged the program on First Amendment grounds, relying on United States v. United Foods, Inc., 533 U. S. 405, in which this Court invalidated a mandatory checkoff that funded mushroom advertising. The District Court found that the Beef Act and Order unconstitutionally compel respondents to subsidize speech to which they object. Affirming, the Eighth Circuit held that compelled funding of speech may violate the First Amendment even when it is the government's speech.

Held: Because the beef checkoff funds the Government's own speech, it is not susceptible to a First Amendment compelled-subsidy challenge. Pp. 5-15.


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