Supreme Court now wholly owned subsidiary of Corporate America

In case you’ve been sleeping (blissfully) under a rock and missed the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” ruling — which handed giant corporations the right to spend any amount to buy their friends seats in Congress and even the presidency — here’s more evidence that the Supreme Court now works for corporate America, not “we the people”:

The Supreme Court dealt a blow to class-action lawsuits that involve small claims affecting thousands or even millions of people by ruling that corporations may use arbitration clauses to block dissatisfied consumers or disgruntled employees from joining together.

In a 5-4 decision, the justices said Wednesday the Federal Arbitration Act of 1925, originally aimed at disputes over maritime and rail shipments, trumps state laws and court rulings in California and about half the states that limit arbitration clauses deemed to be “unfair” to consumers….

“It gives companies a green light to exempt themselves from all class actions from their customers or from their employees,” [Vanderbilt University law professor Brian] Fitzpatrick said. “Companies can basically escape from the civil justice system. And why wouldn’t a company take advantage of that?”

It has become routine now that when someone opens a bank account, subscribes to a cable TV service, buys a cellphone, a computer or a new car or makes a purchase online, he or she agrees to let disputes go to arbitration. Many employers include the same kind of fine print for new hires, blocking class-action suits for employees with discrimination or wage complaints. These arbitration clauses typically require individuals to bring claims on their own, not as a group.

Nonetheless, the California Supreme Court in 2005 said companies should not be allowed to “deliberately cheat large numbers of consumer out of small amounts of money” by shielding themselves from being sued.

But on Wednesday, the court’s conservative majority overruled those state judges.

Posted by James on Sunday, May 08, 2011