‘Due process for me, but not for thee.’
It seems the United States Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s largest business lobby, is also the world’s biggest hypocrite. On the one hand, the three-million-member association objects when a business is denied a traditional jury trial by the government and forced into an in-house trial, a forum that may lack important due process protections. On the other hand, the Chamber objects to proposals to prevent its own members from doing the very same thing to their own customers. In short: Due process for me, but not for thee.
For years, the Chamber has opposed all attempts to end forced arbitration, the controversial practice by which a business, in the event of a dispute, can deny a disgruntled customer access to the courts and force him instead to accept the results of a potentially unfair internal arbitration.
The Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), an entity created by the Chamber to, among other things, stop efforts to make arbitration voluntary, misleadingly characterizes opposition to this coercion as itself coercive and part of a nefarious plot to eliminate arbitration altogether:
[P]laintiffs’ lawyers want to eliminate arbitration. Their aim is to maximize litigation and legal fees by bundling claims that would have gone to arbitration into lucrative class action lawsuits. … Due to the clear advantages of arbitration over litigation in any number of situations, and the need to preserve this important dispute resolution process, ILR has established the Coalition to Preserve Arbitration. [Source: ILR website, page on “arbitration” (accessed November 9, 2015).]
A more accurate name would be the Coalition to Preserve Forced Arbitration. Nobody is trying to get rid of arbitration itself.
Meanwhile, when the shoe is on the other foot the Chamber takes a very different position:
RECOMMENDATION 3: The [government] should adopt a policy that any party named in an administrative proceeding that desires a jury trial may file a notice to remove the proceeding to federal district court. [Source: ILR Recommendations for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, July 2015, p. 4.]
Compare these two quotations. The first means: “We want to deny our customers access to a jury trial.” The second means: “We want to preserve our own access to a jury trial.”
Access to a jury trial is a constitutional right promised to all Americans, not just to the members of the U.S. Chamber of Hypocrisy.*
Dean F. Clancy, a former White House and congressional aide, and current partner at Adams Auld LLC, writes on U.S. health care, budget, and constitutional issues. Follow him at deanclancy.com or on twitter @deanclancy.
* Here are additional links about @USChamber‘s love of cronyism and its plan to spend $100 million to defeat conservative candidates in 2016 (“conservative candidates” being those who stand for smaller, constitutionally limited government). For more information about forced arbitration and its defenders, the reader may wish to read my posts here and here.