Momentum building in Congress to eliminate forced arbitration

Also: AAJ staff seeks feedback on emergency rules for court operations, including changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

Linda A. Lipsen
2021 March

WASHINGTON UPDATE

AAJ made great progress in the last Congress supporting the passage of the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act to eliminate forced arbitration – the rigged system that undermines the rights of workers, consumers, and patients. And now, I am excited to report that momentum is building behind this issue again.

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on forced arbitration called “Justice Restored: Ending Forced Arbitration and Protecting Fundamental Rights” on February 11. Witnesses included Professor Myriam Gilles and Gretchen Carlson in support of enacting the FAIR Act. On that same day, members of the House reintroduced the bill (HR 963) – which has 155 original cosponsors. On the Senate side, the FAIR act will be reintroduced likely the week of February 22. AAJ is currently advocating for original cosponsors in the Senate. Please urge your senator to cosponsor the FAIR act now.

Contact your members of Congress today at https://p2a.co/ENhfwDc to urge their support for the FAIR Act. AAJ will not rest till forced arbitration is a relic of the past; let’s work together to end this poisonous practice and restore your clients’ rights.

For additional information about the FAIR act, please contact Bonnie Johnston at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Opportunity to balance the federal judiciary

In four damaging years, the Trump administration stacked the federal judiciary with largely young, pro-corporate attorneys, with no track record of supporting Seventh Amendment rights and very little demographic or professional diversity. Some were deemed “not qualified” by the American Bar Association (ABA). The Trump administration appointed 234 Article III judges to the federal bench. Notably, Trump appointed three Supreme Court Justices and 54 federal circuit court judges in one term, one short of the 55 circuit court judges Obama appointed over two terms.

With recent election results, President Biden has an important opportunity to bring balance to the federal judiciary by nominating diverse (demographic and professional) pro-civil-justice candidates with actual trial experience for current and future federal judicial vacancies.

While the Biden administration inherited fewer than 50 judicial vacancies, the lowest number of vacancies at the beginning of a presidency since 1989, the expectation is that many judges will take senior status over the next couple of years, providing more vacancies for the Biden administration and the Senate to fill. As of mid-February, current and future announced vacancies were over 80.

As reported by HuffPost, White House Counsel Dana Remus has written to senators that the Biden administration is looking for people “whose legal experiences have been historically underrepresented on the federal bench, including those who are public defenders, civil rights and legal aid attorneys, and those who represent Americans in every walk of life.” Trial lawyers represent Americans in every walk of life. We fight for the rights of individuals, and now we have the opportunity to see that those who are appointed to the federal bench also respect and uphold the rights of all individuals.

AAJ Legal Affairs

Emergency rules survey – your feedback needed!

In March 2020, Congress passed the CARES Act, a COVID-19 relief package. One of the Act’s provisions directed the Judicial Conference of the United States, the policymaking arm of the federal courts, to determine whether emergency rules for court operations are necessary.

AAJ staff created a survey seeking feedback from members on whether emergency rules for court operations, including changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, are necessary due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/LYRYBRT and take five minutes to complete the survey! Your responses will help AAJ decide the best way to be involved in this important rulemaking.

AAJ has additional information available on all rules issues; for more information, please contact Sue Steinman (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and Amy Brogioli (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

AAJ State Affairs

Every state legislature is convening in 2021, and they are confronting major issues currently affecting citizens nationwide. Responding to COVID-19 remains a priority and includes proposals to provide broad immunity to businesses, corporations, municipalities, government bodies, schools, health care providers, and religious institutions when they fail to enact adequate COVID-19 protections. The state trial lawyer associations oppose this legislation and work to protect the rights of workers, consumers, and patients.

Many states are using the 2021 sessions to enhance accountability. The tragic murder of George Floyd put a spotlight on the judicially created doctrine of qualified immunity. As of February 8, 2021, 15 states have introduced legislation that would implement important reforms to address police misconduct, including efforts to end qualified immunity.

AAJ State Affairs is tracking these issues and more across the country and is working with the TLAs to protect your practices. If you have any questions about specific legislation, please reach out to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Fighting for you and your clients

Thank you for your continued support. Despite these difficult times, AAJ continues to fight all attempts to deny access to justice. We will keep you informed about important developments and welcome your input. You can reach me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Linda A. Lipsen Linda A. Lipsen

Ms. Lipsen was named Chief Executive Officer of the American Association for Justice (AAJ), formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA), in April 2010. She joined the organization in 1993 to direct AAJ’s Public Affairs department.

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