Arizona and Maine’s Senators Could Cast Deciding Votes to Maintain Our Rights to Our Day in Court
A new Public Policy Polling survey finds broad and overwhelming support in Maine and Arizona for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) recent rule limiting banks and large corporations like Equifax from using forced arbitration to deny consumers the right to their day in court.
80 percent of Maine voters and 81 percent of Arizona voters support the “forced arbitration” rule to end the use of fine-print “ripoff clauses.” The rule empowers consumers to join together in class action lawsuits taken before a judge or jury rather than being forced into an individual, secretive arbitration process where disputes are decided by an arbitrator approved by the bank or large corporation.
“It’s not surprising to see a rule to maintain access to the courts cut across party lines,” said Tom Cox, staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center and Maine resident. “Clearly, Maine voters want our Senators to to ensure victims of fraud and wrongdoing have their day in court, and we are hopeful that they will do that.”
As Senators consider whether to roll back the forced arbitration rule, about two-thirds of respondents in Maine and Arizona oppose that action, which is wide-ranging across the political spectrum, including majorities of Democrats, independents, and Republicans. In July, the House voted to strike down the rule but our Senators can still save this crucial rule.
Earlier this month, a group of 423 leading law school, university, and college professors in all 50 states urged the Senate to uphold the Constitution and preserve Americans’ rights to their day in court in a letter opposing efforts to block the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new arbitration rule.
“The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule on mandatory arbitration clauses should help to prevent a situation like the Equifax and Wells Fargo debacles from happening again,” said David P. Cluchey, an emeritus professor of law at the University of Maine School of Law in Portland. “Let’s hope that our Senators, Susan Collins and Angus King, will stand up for all of us and oppose this effort.”
“Companies bury forced arbitration clauses in the fine print of their contracts because they know that Americans would be outraged if they knew that ‘I agree’ means they are giving up their constitutional right of access to the courts,” said Michael J. Saks, Regents Professor, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and Department of Psychology at Arizona State University.
The Public Policy Polling results are consistent with national polling conducted by the conservative political action committee, American Future Fund (AFF). Initially, 67 percent of respondents indicated support for the rule, but when told Equifax had used forced arbitration clauses to limit consumer access to the legal system, the share of those supporting the rule rose to 75 percent.
“The Senate, armed with lessons learned from the Equifax and Wells Fargo scandals, must put the interests of active-duty servicemembers, veterans, and American consumers ahead of Wall Street lobbyists and reject efforts to take away our day in court,” said Colonel Lee Lange, USMC retired, president of the Arizona Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America.
The overwhelming majority of Maine and Arizona voters are joined by leading bipartisan voices in support of the CFPB arbitration rule, including the American Legion, The Military Coalition, Dean Clancy, the former vice president for public policy at FreedomWorks, and Tea Party Nation founder Judd Phillips.