The 7th Amendment is a tool designed by our founding fathers to ensure that the powerful and the weak, the rich and the poor, the politically connected and the unknown are equal in their ability to share their story with a jury.
Making sure these rights are forever retained by the citizens helps protect us from tyranny. This changed in the early ’80s when a handful of Supreme Court decisions incorrectly applied the Federal Arbitration Act to consumers and employees instead of leaving it between merchants as intended. It was a voluntary way merchants (equal power) could resolve disputes quickly and cheaply without going through the court system for contract disputes.
The Supreme Court has allowed the Arbitration Act to be applied to individuals and enforced even when state law has voided them. Again, this irrational reasoning was the foundation of a 5 to 4 Supreme Court decision last year in Epic Systems Case, which allowed enforcement of arbitration clauses preventing employees from banding together to hold employers breaking the law accountable.
When Wells Fargo cheated its customers by creating and charging for extra accounts, it protected itself with the forced arbitration clauses consumers did not know they had signed when they opened accounts. You find these forced arbitration clauses in all kinds of unusual places like nursing home agreements, cell phone contracts, banking agreements, etc. It protects big business by preventing the harmed individual from having their day in court.
The arbitration process limits discovery of information, does not apply the rules of civil procedure, frequently requires secrecy of the results, and is subject to a private arbitrator’s whim without the ability to appeal.
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed H.R. 1423 to repeal mandatory forced arbitration. Call your senator and tell them to support the “Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act.” Every citizen deserves their right, assured to them under the Constitution, to have a trial by jury. This is not a Republican versus Democrat or Conservative versus Liberal issue. It is as necessary to protect the right to a trial as it protects freedom of speech, the right to keep and bear arms, freedom of religion, or any other right afforded us by the Constitution. Be heard and fight for what is yours as an American, YOUR RIGHTS.