Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Arbitration as an article of constitutional faith

James Ming Chen, Arbitration as an Article of Constitutional Faith, available at

Arbitration and the ConstitutionScarcely any legal question arises in the United States that is not resolved, sooner or later, through arbitration. If Alexis de Tocqueville could survey contemporary American legal culture, he would rub his eyes with amazement at the privatization of adjudication across a wide swath of issues previously committed to judicial resolution. From trade disputes posing serious questions of economic diplomacy to consumer contracts adhering to cell phones and credit cards, mandatory arbitration has displaced conventional adjudication. In the country that de Tocqueville characterized as driven by its dedication to constitutional lawmaking through litigation, arbitration has become a dominant form of dispute resolution with little if any direct doctrinal influence by federal constitutional law. This is the overriding theme of Peter B. Rutledge’s new book, Arbitration and the Constitution.

I also discussed at the American Enterprise Institute and Federalist Society's March 26, 2013, forum on Arbitration and the Constitution. The video archive of my contribution to that forum appears below:


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