Friday, July 22, 2011

Wall Street Journal Columnist Strassel Promotes UnAmerican, Unconstitutional Mandatory Cramdown Arbitration Agreements

Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberly Strassel (“The Senate Lawsuit Factory,” July 22, 2011) puts the cart before the horse. We have a constitutional right to jury trials in civil cases, which she obviously loathes. Her putative “arbitration system” (sic) is a sham, based on forcing people to agree to arbitrate in advance. As the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote, our sacred Seventh Amendment right to civil jury trial exists as a “bulwark against oppression.”

One-sided contracts requiring arbitration attempt to defeat our fundamental constitutional right to jury trials. “Cramdown” arbitration creates unequal, unaccountable and secret star chambers – they are unAmerican and favored by bullies who want secrecy, using their power and wealth to take away our right to our day in court. Nearly 22 years ago, the late U.S. Department of Labor Associate Chief Administrative Law Judge James Guill and I warned about arbitration clauses in our 1989 American Bar Association Judges’ Journal article, “A Rush to Unfairness – the Downside to Alternative Dispute Resolution.” No one should ever again be forced to sign an arbitration agreement as a condition of applying for a job or buying a product.

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