This week marks the Second Anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision to nullify the Seventh Amendment, your right to trial by jury in civil disputes.  Two years ago, in the culmination of a decades long effort by Corporate America to immunize itself from liability, a 5-4 decision of pro-business justices, blessed the use of forced arbitration clauses in mass consumer contracts.  Since then, hundreds of companies have literally stuffed, slipped and tucked into the fine print of your consumer contracts arbitration clauses that bar your right to go to court, eliminate your right to fix systemic abuses, and exile your grievance to a semi-secret tribunal where the rules and the judges are determined by the corporation itself.  

This abuse must end. With your help, this abuse can end.  But you must make yourself count. Call or write your Congressman and Senators to urge their support for the Arbitration Fairness Act (AFA). 

Why Write Letters?  Legislators contend that they rarely, if ever, hear of any concerns from their constituents about forced arbitration.   If you believe that forced arbitration is unfair to consumers our legislators must know.  Let them know the following: 

•      Consumers Do Not Have A Choice To Avoid Forced Arbitration. Forced arbitration clauses are buried in the fine print of everything from credit card, cell phone and online user agreements. These are take-it-or-leave-it contracts that must be agreed to in-full in order to obtain products, services, and even jobs. Where every corporation in a given industry uses such clauses, a consumer has no choice in avoiding arbitration.  No American should have to choose between their right to access our justice system or having a car, a phone, a bank account or a credit card. 

•      Corporations Use Forced Arbitration To Get Immunity for Breaking the Law.  Corporations use forced arbitration because the system allows them to reduce accountability for wrongdoing.  In the event of a dispute, forced arbitration eliminates access to the courts and instead forces individuals into a secret arbitration forum designed by the very corporation the dispute is against.  Individuals are often faced with high costs, biased decision-makers and weak civil justice safeguards.  Cases that involve deception and individually small sums of money cannot be economically prosecuted through class actions, permitting systemic wrongdoers to effectively escape any liability for their deceptive conduct.  

•      Congress Has Already Banned Arbitration Clauses in Other Settings.  Ten years ago, Congress banned the use of forced arbitration clauses by car manufacturers against car dealers.  If arbitration is not fair for sophisticated car dealers, it is certainly not fair for unsophisticated consumers.  

The Arbitration Fairness Act prohibits corporations from forcing individuals into arbitration, protects access to the courts, and grants Americans what the Supreme Court refuses to recognize: equal justice under the law.