The wealthy and the powerful paid millions to help get Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. Today in #MurphyOil case, he wrote 5-4 decision in favor of the wealthy and powerful. Looks like they got what they paid for. pic.twitter.com/maGD4Z6gmG— Demand Justice (@WeDemandJustice) May 21, 2018
Justice Neil Gorsuch has positioned himself squarely with President Donald Trump in his first major Supreme Court case opinion, proving that the president knew quite well what he was doing when he appointed the conservative judge to the position.
In the opinion for the 5-4 majority, Gorsuch conceded that the policy of allowing companies to require employees to sign away their ability to take part in class-action lawsuits against their superiors warranted suspicion. However, he ended up siding with employers.
"The policy may be debatable,” he wrote in his first major opinion, “but the law is clear: Congress has instructed that arbitration agreements like those before us must be enforced as written. While Congress is of course always free to amend this judgment, we see nothing suggesting it did so in the [National Labor Relations Act] — much less that it manifested a clear intention to displace the [Federal] Arbitration Act."
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who wrote the opinion for the dissenters, disagreed, issuing a stern warning.
Calling the majority opinion “egregiously wrong,” she said that the 1925 arbitration law known as Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), which was taken into consideration in this case, should not protect employers using “arm-twisted" and "take-it-or-leave it" provisions.
She warned that this decision would end up hurting workers as it would lead to less enforcement of federal and state rules protecting employees. She also added that this decision would let employers prohibit employees from joining unions, an argument Gorusch disagreed with, saying the NLRA “[safeguards], first and foremost, workers' rights to join unions and to engage in collective bargaining.”
“Those rights stand every bit as strong today as they did yesterday," he added.
Ginsburg is now calling on Congress to remedy this ruling with legislation.
I join with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in calling on Congress to address the dangerous consequences of this faulty ruling and pass legislation to protect the rights of workers.— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) May 21, 2018
Critics have suggested that Gorsuch has done nothing but follow the administration’s position on this case, making him a tool for the conservative agenda.
"This is the Justice Gorsuch that I think most everyone expected," professor of law at the University of Texas School of Law Steve Vladeck told CNN. "Not only is he endorsing the conservative justices' controversial approach to arbitration clauses, but he's taking it an important step further by extending that reasoning to employment agreements, as well."
Reuters reports that 25 million employees are currently impacted by this type of agreement, keeping them from launching class-actions.
Because class-actions allow for employees with small claims to get competent legal counsel, having their cases resolved efficiently, they are seen as a tool to help protect workers. By reading the FAA the same way as previous justices did, Gorsuch upheld the conservative idea that employers are the ones who have a right over the jobs, and that they can impose a no class-action lawsuit clause in their contract if they see fit.
As ThinkProgress writes, this could be seen as an incentive for employers who want to cheat their workers. As such, this ruling should serve as a warning to employees who may be urged to sign a contract with clauses with which they may not agree.
We’re sure Trump is happy with this decision. After all, he has a history of having to deal with labor-related issues involving his employees.
If anything, this case might as well benefit him, his children, and their companies in the long run. As such, we're sure Trump is more than proud of picking Gorsuch for the bench.
Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst