You would think Congress had solved our nation’s actual problems—like our nonexistent southern border, failed military recruiting, and dependency on China—given that Democrat members of Congress seem to have found the time to focus on solutions in search of problems, such as ending arbitration agreements. 

In April, Democrats re-introduced the “Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act,” which would prohibit arbitration agreements in employment, consumer, antitrust, and civil rights disputes. A few days later, they introduced the “Ending Forced Arbitration of Race Discrimination Act” which prohibits arbitration when someone alleges racial discrimination.

So what is this plague on our nation that Democrats are working so diligently to stop? Arbitration is a fancy word for resolving disputes out of court. Arbitration agreements provide an important vehicle for fairly resolving disputes without lengthy and expensive litigation. In arbitration, victims can pursue all of the same civil remedies they could otherwise bring in a formal court proceeding. But the cases are resolved privately and much more quickly. Employees who bring their grievances to arbitration typically have their cases resolved more quickly than if they sued in court. Victims are also more likely to win and collect more money in arbitration than in court.

There are currently more than 760,000 cases pending before the U.S. district courts. Recognizing the nightmare of litigation, Congress and the Supreme Court have long favored arbitration as an alternative mode of dispute resolution. Preventing employers and employees from resolving disputes this way does not mean that more victims will be vindicated. To the contrary, it means victims will be kept waiting.

So, why would anyone want to ban arbitration agreements? Political back-scratching. Ending arbitration has long been a priority of the plaintiffs’ bar, which directs 97% of its political contributions to the Democratic party. 

“We’re fine with arbitration,” the Left might say. “We just don’t like forced arbitration.” Don’t be fooled, there’s no force. (These are contracts, meaning they aren’t legally enforceable if they are “forced” on someone.) Contracts reflect the consumer or employee accepting a deal. The consumer or employee agrees to take disputes through arbitration, and the business agrees to sell you this product you like or give you a job. Unquestionably many jobs or products would not be available if the business spent all day undertaking absurdly detailed and expensive court procedures, so the employee, consumer, and business are all better off with streamlined dispute resolution. And sure, consumers don’t spend time reading the fine print for every product they purchase, so accepting arbitration might not be some thoughtful exercise. But that’s not to say consumers or employees lack power. Recent experience confirms that employment contracts are indeed malleable: Google amended its arbitration policy for sexual harassment in 2018, in response to employee complaints.  

These pieces of legislation are not consumer friendly. They will not create jobs. They will not bring down the price of goods. But, they will give Democrat donors potential pay-days, and that’s an unfortunate reflection of the priority for certain members of Congress.