The PJ Tatler

Al Franken Wants to End 'Forced Arbitration,' Whatever That Is

To be fair, Senator Al Franken has comported himself with relative dignity since switching careers from comic actor to public official. That said, he does still occasionally turn in a performance from the theater of the absurd.

Take his latest crusade against business. Franken wants to end a practice he calls “forced arbitration.” From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

The Minnesota Democrat spoke to reporters in a telephone news conference reacting to new reports in the New York Times that echo Franken’s concerns with language in everything from credit card contracts to job applications to nursing home leases that make people sign away their rights to sue.

Franken has three times sought legislative relief from the practice, which he says unfairly limits consumer and employee legal options for righting corporate wrongs.

Examples of consumers and employees who have been held at gunpoint and forced to sign contracts under duress have yet to surface. One assumes those must be forthcoming, because the only alternative is that a sitting U.S. senator doesn’t grasp the concept of consent.

All kidding aside, this latest effort emerges from the same school of thought which rejects the legal personhood of corporations and would do away with the protections of limited liability. If successful, Franken would stymie market progress by removing the capacity of businesses to mitigate their risk.

Ironically, by upholding the “right” to not be presented with a particular clause in a contract, Franken would be violating actual rights. People have a right to conduct business on terms they consent to, and Franken proposes using force to prevent them from doing so.