Mike Pence Secures the No Law Zone Around Wall Street

By  Pam Martens and Russ Martens of Wall Street on Parade

Millions of Americans have quietly been pondering for months what a President Mike Pence would be like should Donald Trump be impeached or resign. Yesterday they found out and it’s not a pretty picture.

After the U.S. Senate tied 50-50 on a vote yesterday, Vice President Mike Pence cast the deciding vote to keep the nation’s courthouse doors closed to the customers of the Too-Big-to-Fail banks on Wall Street – effectively strengthening the no law zone that already exists for these banks.

The vote came about as a result of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issuing its final rule in July which would allow consumers who have been defrauded in financial transactions involving credit cards and bank accounts to have access to file a group action (known legally as a “class action”) using the nation’s courts. The CFPB was created under the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation of 2010 and Republicans in Congress, particularly Jeb Hensarling, Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, have been trying to gut its power ever since. Hensarling’s last political campaign was heavily financed by the same Wall Street banks who benefit from his efforts to marginalize the CFPB.

Here’s the background:

Wall Street is the only industry in America that contractually bans both its customers and its employees from accessing the nation’s courts as a condition of opening an account or getting a job there. (That’s likely because it’s also the only industry that has the brazenness to let the top lawyers of the largest Wall Street banks meet in secret each year to plan their strategies for keeping their no law zone in force.)

Instead of being able to go to court with a claim of fraud (if you’re a customer), or a claim for labor law violations, like failure to pay overtime or sexual harassment (if you’re an employee), Wall Street makes its customers and employees sign an agreement to take all such claims into an industry-run or privately-run arbitration system.

These private justice systems are not cheaper and fairer as Wall Street’s shills (like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) insist. Fees can run into tens of thousands of dollars as opposed to a few hundred dollars to file in court; and study after study has found that arbitrators most often rule in favor of the corporate interest over the consumer.

What Wall Street and its army of lawyers like most about these private justice systems is that they are dark. Unlike a public courtroom, the press and the public are not allowed to attend the hearings. There are no publicly available transcripts of the hearings as there would be in court. Arbitrators are instructed that they do not have to follow legal precedent or case law but can rule from their gut; they are not required to write reasoned and detailed decisions so that an appeal of their findings can be made. In fact, it is next to impossible to bring a court appeal of an arbitration ruling because Wall Street’s biggest law firms have spent decades convincing the courts that these decisions must be permanently binding

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