Friday, April 29, 2011

Supreme Court: 'A Decision With Devastating Consequences'

Remember when conservatives used to scream "Bloody Murder!" about "activist" judges? They're quiet these days as the Republican Supreme Court dismantles the constitutional protections of ordinary citizens and small businesses against the overbearing dominance of corporate America.

Here's the latest outrage, according to a story on HuffingtonPost today:

On Wednesday the U.S. Supreme Court sided with AT&T in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion--a decision with devastating consequences for consumer protection and civil rights. In essence, AT&T asked the court to allow it to use the fine print of contracts to eliminate class actions, a practice that flouts the laws of 20 states. In a 5-4 decision, the court granted AT&T's request.

The case's potential impact is breathtaking. Corporations can now prevent consumers and small business owners from exercising what is often their only real option for challenging companies that defraud them by millions or even billions of dollars: banding together to file class action lawsuits. The case could be equally devastating to millions of non-union employees, who need class actions to challenge systemic discrimination by their employers. 

The Supreme Court has given major corporations the green light to engage in nearly limitless wrongdoing against others, so long as they do it in relatively small dollar amounts, which ensures that no one can afford to challenge the misconduct without a class action.

A sudden demise of class actions will shock the markets and the legal system. It will dramatically increase the market power of major corporations over ordinary Americans and small business owners, who are already outmatched. Innumerable laws that protect the public will become irrelevant because few people can enforce them.

This, of course, is the same group of Supremes who earlier ruled that price fixing is OK (helps the poor by taking the complexity out of choices) and that corporations are people and can, in effect, control elections and buy politicians as an expression of free speech.


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