Kia Franklin

How the Bush Administration squashed consumer rights through tort deforms

Consumer issues are at the forefront of my mind, and I know I'm not alone. Given the big holiday sales coming up this weekend and the daily developments about our economy, I thought the following piece by Public Justice's Executive Director, Arthur Bryant, was very timely.

Bryant talks about civil justice from a consumer rights perspective, detailing three threats to the civil justice system that have been pushed by the Bush Administration: the use of binding mandatory arbitration clauses in consumer contracts, federal regulatory agency preemption, and class action bans. These policies have had pernicious effects on consumers' rights. Particularly helpful is Bryant's section on class action bans, which could be covered more often here on TD.

From the article:

All eyes are focused on President-Elect Obama, who will bring change to America, and the economic crisis, where huge corporations let avarice overwhelm them. But few people are noticing that President Bush and some companies, trying to maximize profits, are implementing changes that, if not stopped, will put most Americans last -- and out of court.

America was founded by people who understood that power unchecked is power abused. That's why we have, among other things, separation of powers, the Bill of Rights, and the right to a day in court. For several years now, however, many of those with power -- in both the public and private sectors -- have had few restraints. The federal government did nothing to restrain them, facilitating their conduct, while their greed ran amok. They could only be held accountable in the courts. So they unleashed an unprecedented, calculated, and fundamentally un-American attack: step by step, in area after area, they are working to eliminate their victims' access to the courts and, ultimately, justice itself.

They are using many tactics, but three are critical -- federal preemption, mandatory arbitration, and class action bans. If these three succeed, most Americans can kiss many of their rights goodbye. Read full article

Bryant concludes that in the United States of America, "we don't pledge allegiance to liberty and justice "for some." We must keep the courthouse doors open -- and preserve access to justice -- for all." Read the full article.

As Obama gets his team together to tackle the economy, do you think they'll pay attention to consumer rights issues?

Kia Franklin: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 3:48 PM, Nov 26, 2008 in Arbitration | Business Culture | Civil Justice | Class Action | Consumer Rights | Decision 2008 | Federal Preemption | In the News | Right to Access the Courts | Under-regulation
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There is no liberty or justice for the victims of the careless lawyer and judge.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | November 27, 2008 1:13 AM

Very important post, unfortunately with about 60 days to go, we still have to wait and hope they don't do worse.

Posted by: Michael Bryant | November 27, 2008 9:10 PM