One of the most remarkable, and beneficial, trends in law during the past few years is the move toward arbitration in civil disputes.
It is a fair, free enterprise solution to the perils of the jury system, clogged courts and the litigation lottery. Trial lawyers, naturally, hate it with a passion and are doing everything they can to derail the system.
Twice, the Supreme Court has rejected challenges to the system, so the barristers are trying to ply pliable politicians in Congress to prevent people from settling their own disagreements.
Arbitration is fairly simple. Parties in a dispute agree to letting a third party, usually an expert, hear their case and decide who is right.
For a long time, the procedure was confined to business disputes and labor disputes. Of late, other types of civil disputes have moved into arbitration.
The guidelines are in a 1925 federal law that, the Supreme Court has determined, establishes arbitration as a private contract the parties generally must be held to, having voluntarily agreed that they would.
But a lawyer who is a good contract-breaker can name his own price, and some resent the fact that people can work out their own problems outside a courtroom, where rhetoric, sophistry and emotional appeal can turn a lay jury into Play Doh. …