Franklin Strier had his editorial, “Don’t deny justice to everyday folks; Supreme Court will hear two class action suits that may affect this legal avenue” published in Newsday in January. The emeritus professor of business law states that while class action suits have been an “iconic instrument of socio-economic justice,” they may be an endangered species in the face of two major cases about to be heard by the Supreme Court: Wal-Mart Stores v. Dukes, which is brought by 1.5 million past and present female employees of the retailer who claim gender-based pay and promotion discrimination; and AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, composed of customers who allege that the company’s ads promising “free” cell phones were fraudulent because each buyer had to pay $30 for sales tax.
Strier says that while the law is sufficiently flexible in interpretation toward either side, the five-member conservative majority of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice John Roberts may be a strike against such cases.
“When decision after decision favors business, obvious inferences are drawable,” says Strier. “In some cases, as with gun control and the Second Amendment, the law is fairly rigid. Yet the Roberts Court has often come up with tortured reasoning to support its rulings. And since they are the Supreme Court, there is typically no other recourse.”
Strier is the author of two books on the legal system, “Reconstructing Justice,” released by the University of Chicago Press, and “The Adversary System,” published by Fred B. Rothman & Co. He is currently writing a book about the Roberts Supreme Court.
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