Corporate Accountability

Today in the Senate—Arbitration and the Roberts Court: Closing the Courthouse Doors to Americans

Today at 2:30pm ET, the Senate Judiciary Committee will be holding a hearing entitled “The Federal Arbitration Act and Access to Justice: Will Recent Supreme Court Decisions Undermine the Rights of Consumers, Workers, and Small Businesses?” 

This hearing is designed to highlight a series of rulings by the Supreme Court that have unduly extended the reach of the Federal Arbitration Act.  Because of these rulings, mandatory binding arbitration provisions pop up, or more often lie hidden in fine print, in just about every conceivable agreement that Americans are obliged to sign, whether to take a job, obtain telephone service, enroll a parent in an assisted living facility, visit a hospital emergency room, purchase a product, or open a bank account; the list goes on and on.

To aid the Committee in its deliberations, Constitutional Accountability Center submitted written testimony offering our thoughts on these recent rulings and placing them within the larger context of the Court’s business docket.  Drawing upon our empirical studies tracking the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s success before the Supreme Court, we highlighted the Chamber’s important role in shaping the Court’s recent business decisions, including those addressing arbitration.

The Chamber has filed amicus briefs in every major arbitration case decided by the Roberts Court, and has been on the winning side in the vast majority of them – including American Express v. Italian Colors Restaurant, decided last Term.  The losing party in that case, Alan Carlson (the restaurant’s owner, a small businessman), will be a witness at today’s hearing.  All told, since Justice Samuel Alito joined the Supreme Court, the Chamber has compiled a record of 8 wins and 2 losses in cases addressing arbitration – an 80% winning percentage.  

The Committee and Senator Franken deserve praise for drawing attention to this important issue.  We’ll be watching with interest.



Webcast: Today’s hearing will be webcast live at 2:30 PM ET.

CAC’s Written Testimony to Senator Franken in Advance of the Committee’s Arbitration Hearing

CAC’s Most Recent Chamber Report: A Big Term for Big Business (June 25, 2013)

CAC Commentary on American Express Co. v. Italian Colors Restaurant


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