SCOTUS: AT&T can force arbritration

The SCOTUS ruled this week that AT&T (and other corporations) can block people from filing class action lawsuits and force mandatory binding arbitration per the Federal Arbitration Act.

First off, here’s what the Act does:

The Federal Arbitration Act (found at 9 U.S.C. Section 1 et seq.), enacted in 1925, provides for contractually-based compulsory and binding arbitration, resulting in an “arbitration award” entered by an arbitrator or arbitration panel as opposed to a “judgment” entered by a court of law. In an arbitration the parties give up the right to an appeal on substantive grounds to a court.

Per the Wikipedia link, mandatory binding arbitration is nothing new, but in some states (such as California), forcing binding arbitration is unconscionable and can be voided from a contract by a judge. This week’s ruling voids all laws like California’s and applies one federal standard. That is, states that want to apply a higher standard now have no choice but to side with the corporations.

The downside of mandatory arbitration? Companies tend to make it such that they require you to use their own arbiter, which is hardly fair for the consumer. And there’s no way to appeal the ruling if it’s not completely legit.

Just another example of how people are getting screwed over. Our only hope now is definitely much stronger, neutral federal regulatory bodies to enforce our consumer rights.

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