Civil Rights Coalition Urges Senate to Oppose Class Action Fairness Act of 2003

Media 09.17,03

WASHINGTON ? Yesterday, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) and 41 organizations sent a letter to the Senate, urging senators to oppose the Class Action Fairness Act of 2003, a bill that would substantially alter the constitutional distribution of judicial power.

“Class actions are essential to the enforcement of our nation’s civil rights laws,” said Wade Henderson, executive director of LCCR. “They are often the only means by which individuals can challenge and obtain relief from systemic discrimination. Indeed, federal class actions were designed to accommodate, and have served as a primary vehicle for, civil rights litigation seeking broad equitable relief,” he continued.

“LCCR believes that the impact of this legislation would be profound, and would result in new and substantial limitations on access to the courts for victims of discrimination,” Henderson concluded.

The letter states four main reasons why the civil rights community is troubled by the Class Action Fairness Act:

  • The bill will overburden and create further unnecessary delay in our federal courts;

  • The bill will burden the federal judiciary, rendering it a less effective mechanism by which plaintiffs may seek access to justice;

  • The bill could discourage people from bringing class actions by prohibiting settlements that provide named plaintiffs full relief for their claims;

  • The bill could impose new, burdensome, and unnecessary requirements on litigants and the federal courts.