Last week in a relatively quiet 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court decided that you could surrender your right to the court system, even if you weren't aware of it. AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion is the case, and it basically holds that the Federal Arbitration Act preempts all state and local laws concerning contracts. The act specifies that if binding arbitration is a contract term, all courts must abide by it. Until last week, California (and many other states) had protections in place to prevent abuse of this by large corporations who use contracts of "adhesion." Adhesion contracts are basically those that don't really let you negotiate the terms (ie, if I want a mobile phone from ATT, I can't really choose my billing date, which hidden charges I agree to, etc). In the past, courts were very skeptical of adhesion contracts that deprived individuals of due process protections (car companies were the first to try this by "contracting" away their tort liability and warranty requirements). What this means is that every business from now on will have a binding arbitration clause in the boilerplate of its contract (a contract which you have very little control over if you need one of the many necessities in life), and there will be no way for consumers to go outside of the arbitration process. Of course arbitrators are supposed to be neutral, but under the current standards of the law, they can be paid for by the corporation and they are not subject to any kind of judicial review or oversight. As last note of cruel irony, the law itself is nearly 90 years old and was written for a different era.