The Case More Dangerous Than Citizens United?

Citizens United gets most of the attention as a key and decisive mistake, or purposeful over-reach, depending on your perspective, by the Roberts Court. But despite the broad expansion of corporate power ushered in by the Citizens United, it is not the Roberts Court only significant pro-corporate, anti-individual decision and it’s not the decision that has done the most immediate harm to Americans. That distinction is reserved for AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion.

Just over a year ago the Roberts Court gave a full-throated endorsement of corporation’s contractual rights to block the most effective civil justice remedy for holding bad companies accountable to those they harm: the class-action lawsuit.

To effectively strip away an individual’s right to, essentially, collectively organize in the legal setting and therefore bargain more effectively, all a corporation need to do is draft a contract that requires unsatisfied customers settle disputes through arbitration and prohibits unhappy customers from arbitrating as a collective.

At the end of April the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen released a report titled “Justice Denied” that showed that since Conception, judges had cited the decision at least 76 times as a reason to prevent potential class-action lawsuits from moving ahead. In many cases the judges made it clear they were ruling against the plaintiffs only because they must, because Concepcion basically made it impossible to come to any other decision.

David Segal further breaks down the damage done by Concepcion, here but it all boils down to one basic concept and that is restricting individual access to the federal court system. And when we restrict individual access to the public system we lose the last available check on governmental abuse of power and criminal corporate greed. When coupled with the national assault on voting rights, disenfranchisement begins to take on a much broader and more pernicious meaning.

Related Stories:

SCOTUS Deals Consumers Another Blow

Photo from dctim1 via flickr.


Ira L.
Ellie L5 years ago


Linda T.
Linda T5 years ago

Well how conveinant since the Republicans won't allow any judges to be confirmed any ways so by dening us a right to sue they don't need those judges. Thanks for reminding us what a horrible unjust country we are becoming.

Kimberlee W.
Kimberlee W5 years ago

While that is indeed a corrupted decision, my money for the worst decision will still go to Lee vs. The County of Burlington whereby, we citizens may be scooped up by the police on the most specious of reasons, stripped, raped, scrubbed and incarcerated for the most innocent of disobediences.

Completely DOES NOT MATTER IF YOU ARE INNOCENT OR GUILTY. And you CANNOT sue for damages resulting from an erroneous arrest and incarceration. There is NO REDRESS OF DAMAGES that you may recover. Every bad act of the police is not considered lawful.

And, of course, this is to protect the PRIVATE companies, most notably CCA, which are convincing our state gov't's to use them and take, what I consider a public trust, from the citizenry. While crime goes down, we must pay these companies for a 90% filled prison.
If crime goes down while the profit MUST go up, if people are uncooperative in fulfilling their responsibility to commit crimes, we must make everyday occurrences crimes in order to fulfill the quota demanded.
Any questions?

Ron B.
Ron B5 years ago

The dirty little secret that most Americans don't realize or refuse to accept is that the corporate/fascist state has already won. In fact, it won many years ago. Our corporate owners gave us the illusion of having a democracy for quite a while, but even that charade isn't as important to them anymore as they become ever increasingly more powerful. So what if conditions for the masses get so bad that enough people finally wake up to reality? What are we going to do about it, overthrow the government? Not hardly.

The cycle will most likely swing back the other way eventually, it always has in the past. But it might take a long time. In the meantime, those who remain aware of what's going on will fare the best and those who choose willful ignorance will suffer the most.

Jo Patterson

You know, it has gotten to the point we are preaching to the choir on this and like-minded sites. How long are we going to let them stomp on us?! The OWS/99% movement is a great step forward, but, it is still only one step. The 1% and their allies are not yet afraid, when they should be terrified for their lives. There are nonviolent tactics we could deploy on the out of control police that are very effective One such tactic is that of coming from (a) direction(s) to surround them they wouldn't expect. The introduction of their aerial drones makes it more difficult now; the drones can be dealt with by people knowledged in that area. A ray of hope I have been observing is that volunteers are registering voters who would otherwise be disenfranchised. Real heroes they are.

James Sellers
James Sellers5 years ago


Karl Schmiedeskamp

Corporations have been using the arbitration scam for 10 years that I know for sure. They get better every day at circumventing the law & the will of the people. All the better to get the laws they like written & the court decisions to fall their way.

Karl Schmiedeskamp

The old arbitration scam has been going on for at least 10 years that I know. Corporations are getting better every day at circumventing the law and the will of the people. All the better to write the laws they like.

Kevin Cline
Past Member 5 years ago

Thank you

Vivianne Mosca-Clark

Back the people ...not corporations when you Vote !