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Evening News Ignores Supreme Court Decision That Protects Corporate Immunity

July 4, 2013

From Media Matters.

Evening cable and network news have almost completely ignored the Supreme Court’s sweeping decision in American Express v. Italian Colors, a 5-4 decision that further privatizes and restricts access to justice for everyday Americans by allowing corporations to immunize themselves from judicial review.

Despite the fact that American Express was a highly contentious pro-business opinion by the conservative bloc of the Supreme Court – even by their extremely corporate-friendly standards – a Media Matters search of Nexis transcripts reveals that with the exception of one brief non-primetime mention on PBS, not one cable or network evening news show addressed the decision.

Traditional contract law has long held that certain unconscionable agreements are unenforceable. Contractual clauses are traditionally voided if they eliminate victims’ ability to enforce their statutory rights, making Justice Antonin Scalia’s American Express opinion to the contrary “a betrayal of our precedents, and of federal statutes like the antitrust laws,” according to Justice Elena Kagan’s scathing dissent.

In this case, American Express used its monopoly powers over a group of small business owners to force them to accept exorbitant credit card fees in a seemingly blatant violation of antitrust statutes. When these small businesses grouped together to pursue a class action protecting their consumer rights, American Express pointed to a clause in the card agreement that not only blocked access to the courts in favor of forced arbitration, it also prohibited plaintiffs from joining together in this mandatory forum.

But because of the high cost of bringing actions against this well-defended corporation, individual claims are financially prohibitive, leaving the small businesses without “effective vindication” of their federal rights under antitrust law. Not only are these mandatory arbitration clauses forcing victims of corporate abuse to forego the courts in favor of privatized (and confidential) justice, they are barred from making it remotely affordable. Read the rest of the story at Media Matters.


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