They Got What They Paid for


As I have written about many times in the past, almost all contracts you sign for banking, credit cards, cell-phones and other consumer services contain provisions which require you to give up your legal right to sue the vendor in a court of law and your right to be apart of a class action lawsuit. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency created by Congress to protect consumers from abuses perpetrated by the financial industry, recently passed a rule prohibiting contractual clauses of this type. This was done, of course, over the strong objection of the financial industry. But, the battle was not over.


The response of the financial industry to the rule was to hire a virtual army of lobbyists to persuade Congress to overturn the rule.


On October 25, 2017, the U.S. Senate voted on party lines 50 to 50 to repeal the rule. Then, Vice President Pence cast the deciding vote, making it 51 to 50 to repeal the rule.


It is impossible to overstate the injustice of this Senate vote. There has likely never been a more blatant example of the power of lobbyists.


Please remember that open access to the courts and the right of trial by jury are bedrock constitutional rights. I wonder what the 51 Republicans who voted to repeal the rule would say if a bank put a clause in its depository contracts that required you to give up your right to free speech or your right to keep and bear arms? If a bank can force you to give up your right to file a lawsuit against them, is there any limit on what can be put into a contract?


To top it off, in the Senate debate our Senator Cornyn argued the rule should be repealed because it was only lawyers that benefited from going to court.  Shouldn’t it be your right, rather than Senator Cornyn’s, to decide if you want to take your case to a court of law rather than private, unfair arbitration? Be assured that whenever a politician has to resort to the “greedy trial lawyer” argument to justify whatever he or she wants, that politician is about to do something that is not in the public’s best interest.


Photo by Denis Hiza via