Yesterday, the Supreme Court ended its term with a bang with a ruling in McDonald v. City of Chicagothat state gun control regulations can be struck down by federal courts based on the Second Amendment. While the number and scale of blockbuster decisions was not so high this session, the singular impact of the Citizens Unitedcase earlier in the term unleashing unregulated corporate money on elections, combined with the dangerous implications of the Rent-A-Center, West v. Jacksonarbitration decision, emphasizes the pro-corporate bias the Supreme Court has increasingly exercised in recent years.
The headline above is a quote from former West Virginia Supreme Court
Justice Richard Neely, describing what his role was as an arbitrator at
the National Arbitration Forum (NAF), a for-profit company
to enforce mandatory arbitration clauses for credit card consumer
loans. "NAF is nothing more than an arm of the collection
industry hiding behind a veneer of impartiality," says Richard Neely.
In a devastating expose
by BusinessWeek, Neely
and other former arbitrators describe an arbitration system
against consumers-- a system where creditors win 99.8% of all disputes
involving companies ranging from Bank of America to Sears to Citgroup.
Arbitration clauses buried in the fine print of credit card
offers means consumers lose the right to have disputes decided in an
independent court and instead are forced into corporation-selected
James Madison, one of the main drafters of the Constitution and the fourth President, wrote
that, "Trial by jury in civil cases is as essential to secure the
liberty of the people as any one of the pre-existent rights of nature."
Yet, today, consumers, employees and victims of corporate negligence
are increasingly being denied access to justice through the courts.