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David Mittleman
David Mittleman
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Corporations Want a Get Out of Jail Free Card Allowing Them to Break Federal Laws

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The U.S. Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments yesterday in a case that would grant corporations near complete immunity from federal laws. The disgusting argument revolves around the sneaky back door practice whereby corporations would be allowed to wrangle small businesses and individuals into forced arbitration rather than going through the court system. The current case's arguments go so far as to allow for corporations to force arbitration even when it can be proven that justice would be unattainable outside of the courts.

And why is this even being heard, I ask? This case is tantamount to a get out of jail free card for big corporations. If you aren't familiar, forced abitration occurs when a corporation is allowed to put a clause in contracts that all disputes must be settled outside of court. But what's worse is that complaints against big corporations won't simply be solved outside of the court system–they are essentially resolved on an individual basis in a private system designed by the corporation that the complaint is against!

The current case specifically refers to American Express vs. Italian Colors Restaurant. Small businesses in the case assert that American Express violated federal anti-trust laws by using its monopoly power over charge cards to force merchants to take all AmEx-branded credit cards and pay higher fees. The restaurants in question have provided ample evidence to show that individual forced arbitration would be exceedingly costly compared to the mere thousands of dollars that the companies are trying to get in damages. If the Supreme Court decides in Amex's favor, it will essentially allow for the company to get away with widespread violation of federal laws while the small businesses suffer.