Constitutional Accountability Center Statement on Rent-A-Center v. Jackson


DATE:  June 21, 2010                                    
CONTACT:  Doug Kendall, 202-296-6889

Constitutional Accountability Center Statement on 
Rent-A-Center v. Jackson

WASHINGTON, DC — Doug Kendall, President of Constitutional Accountability Center, had the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling today in Rent-A-Center v. Jackson:

“Today, an ideologically-divided Supreme Court reached out to create a new rule that unjustifiably narrows the grounds for challenging forced arbitration agreements in federal court.  The Court’s ruling effectively relegates American workers to arbitration proceedings that can be structurally biased to favor large corporations.  The ruling evidences hostility to access to federal courts, a core part of our constitutional tradition.  Authored by Justice Scalia, who at oral argument dismissed employees who sign arbitration agreements as “stupid people,” Jackson is a perfect example of how the Supreme Court is twisting federal statutes in a way that favors corporations and unfairly disadvantages hard-working Americans. 

The Court’s ruling creates a new pleading rule that neither party requested.  It extends the 1925 Federal Arbitration Act beyond the wildest dreams (or nightmares) of the Act’s Gilded Age framers.  And, most important, it so narrows the role of a reviewing federal court that it effectively replaces the federal courts with a system of private tribunals set up by corporate America.  Justice John Paul Stevens, in a biting dissent joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer and Sotomayor, rightly refused to go along with the majority’s ‘fantastic reasoning.’ Obviously, Stevens was using fantastic in the sense of being devoid of reality, which is a fitting description of the Court’s ruling.” 


Constitutional Accountability Center is a think tank, law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history.  CAC joined an amicus brief in Jackson, emphasizing that forced arbitration of civil rights claims runs counter to the text and history of the Reconstruction-era civil rights statute at issue, which was written to give Americans a right of access to federal courts. In a recent study, Constitutional Accountability Center documented that since Justice Alito joined the Supreme Court in early 2006, a cohesive five-Justice conservative majority on the Supreme Court has produced victories for the Chamber of Commerce’s side in 64% of cases overall, and 71% of closely divided cases.  So far this term, including today’s rulings in Jackson and Monsanto v. Geerston Seed Farms, the statistics are even more one-sided, with the Chamber’s side prevailing in 9 of 12 (75%) cases overall and 5 of 6 cases (83%) decided by a five-vote majority. 

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