Civil Rights Coalition Blasts Class Action Fairness Act, Urges Senate to Oppose

Media 10.20.03

WASHINGTON – In a letter to the Senate, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) and 41 organizations urged senators to vote against 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.

“This bill is misnamed. It ought to be called “The Class Action UNFairness Act, because it would result in substantial limitations on access to the courts for victims of discrimination” declared Henderson.

The letter states four main reasons why The Class Action UNFairness Act is harmful:

  • 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; and

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