Arbitration, Bernie Sanders, and the Lamps Plus case

From my new Cato post:

“Read this section carefully. It requires you to waive your right to a jury trial and arbitrate certain disputes and claims and prohibits class and representative actions or arbitrations.” — from the “Bernie App.” (illustration via @NC_CyberLaw on Twitter).

That’s right. The campaign-ready “Bernie app” released this week requires its users to agree to submit to arbitration in case of dispute, in place of lawsuits and especially class actions. As Ted Frank observes, “Even Bernie Sanders recognizes the importance and value of arbitration in navigating a legal system designed to benefit lawyers over the interests of consumers and businesses.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if the Vermont senator preached what he practiced? Later I bring the discussion around to the Supreme Court’s ruling last week (Lamps Plus v. Varela, earlier here and here) that courts should not read class arbitration mechanisms into arbitration agreements that are silent or ambiguous on the subject. Whole thing here.


  • Ok, but the Sanders campaign removed the arbitration clause from their terms within a couple days after people asked about it. Asking your employer to strike the arbitration clause from your employment agreement doesn’t usually produce the same result.

  • This reminds me of Consumers Union (publisher of Consumer Reports), which describes any number of objectionable marketing techniques in their magazine.

    Yet when my Consumer Reports subscription was going to run out I started getting renewal notice letters stamped “FINAL NOTICE” on the outside informing me I would not longer receive the magazine. I’m pretty sure they condemn that practice by others.

    In general marketing or legal techniques which many find objectionable (like arbitration) are in place because they achieve the desired result are often practiced by the very organizations which condemn them.