The Supreme Court’s conservatives again sided with companies that insist that disputes be handled through arbitration, ruling for American Express on Thursday over merchants that said the company made it impossible to pursue an antitrust complaint.
The court ruled 5 to 3 that the retailers were bound by an agreement to handle disputes through individual arbitration, even if banding together in class action was the only way to make such a challenge economically feasible.
As it has in most recent cases involving arbitration, the court split along ideological lines, with Justice Antonin Scalia writing for the majority.
“The antitrust laws do not guarantee an affordable procedural path to the vindication of every claim,” Scalia wrote, saying that courts must “vigorously enforce” arbitration contracts according to their terms.
Experts in the field said it has become clear that a majority of the high court will make it hard to pursue class-action arbitration claims.