There is a country where Big Business can completely bypass the court system and have cases brought by employees, customers, and individuals heard by a private court system that is overwhelmingly funded by the corporations themselves. In this country they can even totally prevent the bringing of any class action suits for any damage, fraud, or other illegal practice they may engaged in. These suits can only be brought individually and must be heard by this private court system. So what country is this in? Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Myanmar? No, this country is the United States!
Our “independent” Supreme Court has AGAIN sided with the huge corporations and just delivered the working people of the United States another body blow. In this new ruling, AT&T v. Concepcion, the Supreme Court has overturned lower federal Court decisions and given Big Business the ability to deprive you of your most potent weapon to fight back if you have been cheated or harmed by a corporation. In this ruling you will now no longer be able to use class action suits for redress against a corporation. This new ruling comes on top of the Citizens United v. FEC case where the Supreme Court declared that corporations have the same rights as individuals and were entitled to free speech where they were free to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. In fairness to the impartiality of the Supreme Court, the poor as well as the rich both have the right to spend unlimited amounts of money for political purposes.
Consider this: If your phone company illegally charges you $10 on your bill and also does this to another million customers, the Supreme Court’s ruling allows companies to force consumers or employees into arbitration agreements that prevent them (you) from joining with the others to hold the company accountable. Big Business with its myopic focus on profits often cross the line into fraud, discrimination, and other illegal practices.
How many people have the money and time to take on the task if suing a corporation for $10 or even $1000? The only way this was possible was through the use of class action suits where the customers would join together and take on the wrongs of the corporations. This ruling will now make it nearly impossible to fight against Big Business’ malevolent behavior, and leaves consumers powerless to stop them if they do. This Supreme Court decision, basically allows the major corporations to ignore the law and because of the Citizens United case, to create corporate-made law for the rest of us as they use their economic might to hire the politicians to write laws that favor them.
The use of arbitration agreements on the surface sounds like a reasonable solution because no one wants to go through the turmoil of a lawsuit, and it does streamline any grievance process. However, in reality this amounts to a private corporate controlled court system. The largest arbitration firms are heavily biased in favor of Big Business and against consumers. Since an arbitration company must keep future possible cases in mind, it is in its interests to rule for Big Business and against consumers, and this fact is a blatant violation of any stated impartiality that they may profess.
The Citizens United v. FEC and the AT&T v. Concepcion cases, our Supreme Court has tilted the playing field heavily in favor of the corporations and against working people. The impliciations of such a radical tilt will certainly be felt as time goes by. Think of this, if AT&T decided to “make a mistake” of $10 on 1 million customers bills, it would make $10 million because of this mistake with probably only a small handful of people challenging it, and they would have to challenge it in the private corporate arbitration courts. What do you think are the odds that practices such as this will become common in the future as the nation marches closer and closer to a corporatocracy?
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