May 02, 2011
On April 27, 2011, the Supreme Court announced its decision in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion. Section 2 of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) makes agreements to arbitrate "valid, irrevocable, and enforceable, save upon such grounds as exist at law or in equity for the revocation of any contract." The question in this case was whether the FAA bars Sstates from conditioning the enforceability of certain arbitration agreements on the availability of classwide arbitration procedures.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Scalia, the Court held by a vote of 5-4 that because state laws that condition the enforceability of certain arbitration agreements on the availability of classwide arbitration procedures is "an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress," the FAA bars such laws. Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito joined Justice Scalia’s opinion. Justice Thomas filed a concurring opinion. Justice Breyer filed a dissenting opinion, which Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined.
To discuss the case, we have Brian T. Fitzpatrick, who is an Associate Professor of Law at Vanderbilt University Law School.