In a 5-4 ruling on April 27,2011, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Concepcion v. AT&T that corporations may in the fine print of their consumer contracts prohibit class action/group action arbitration, and that defrauded consumers cannot challenge such clauses on the grounds of unconscionability.
This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court dealt a crushing blow (pdf) to American consumers and employees, ruling in the AT&T vs Concepcion case that companies can ban class actions in the fine print of contracts.
Today's New York Times contains this terrific editorial, linking to Public Citizen's research on mandatory arbitration outcomes, criticizing the Supreme Court's recent decision in Rent-a-Center v. Jackson, and endorsing intervention by Congress.
Even prominent arbitrators agree: Decisions about whether arbitration clauses in the consumer and employment context are unconscionable shouldn't be left entirely in the hands of arbitrators themselves. Instead, courts must be able to step in and prevent abuses.