Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Important supreme court decision

Today the Supreme Court wrote its opinion in AT & T Mobility, LLC v. Concepcion.  This is probably the most important S. Ct. decision since Citizen's United, and shows some important things about the Court politically.  Once again, Justice Kennedy was the swing vote, siding with the conservatives (Alito, Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas) instead of the liberals (Breyer, Ginsberg, Sotomayor and Kagan).

There are many ways to view this opinion, which in a nutshell is that federal laws regarding forced arbitration in consumer contracts pre-empt state laws.  There is the obvious Wall St. v. Main St. lens.  Others noted that the giant class action relating to Wal-Mart's discrimination against female employees will be greatly damaged by this decision.  On the other hand, this decision gives the federal government more power to regulate consumer contracts in favor of consumers, should they choose to do so.

My take is that this is another instance of the Supreme Court allocating powers to the federal government which previously belonged to the state government.  I see this decision as having a far reaching impact on consumers, as more areas which traditionally belong to state law, like foreclosures and the regulation of local commerce, will be pre-empted by federal law.

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