Commentary: Has Corporate America Slashed Access to Justice?

Thousands of Americans no longer have access to justice when it comes to suing corporations, after a conservative legal movement has pushed hard for judicial restraint and a corporate lobby has pressed for “tort reform,” Lina Kahn of the New America Foundation writes at Washington Monthly. Kahn says:

“Two recent US Supreme Court rulings — AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion and American Express v. Italian Colors Restaurant have deeply undercut … centuries-old public rights, by empowering businesses to avoid any threat of private lawsuits or class actions. The decisions culminate a thirty-year trend during which the judiciary, including initially some prominent liberal jurists, has moved to eliminate courts as a means for ordinary Americans to uphold their rights against companies. The result is a world where corporations can evade accountability and effectively skirt swaths of law, pushing their growing power over their consumers and employees past a tipping point.”

Kahn discusses court decisions expanding the way in which companies can compel arbitration and allowing corporate bans on certain class-action lawsuits. She laments a “brave new world” where “thousands of cases that individuals once had a shot of winning can no longer even enter a courtroom, jeopardizing enforcement of laws spanning consumer and employee protection, civil rights and antitrust.”

Kahn’s article is entitled, “How Corporate America Shut the Courthouse Doors to Average People.” It was posted this week at the website of Moyers & company.


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