In Rent-a-Center, the conservative wing of the high court turned away an employee's challenge of an arbitration agreement that he was required to sign before gaining employment. The former employee, Antonio Jackson, lodged a federal lawsuit against Rent-a-Center West arguing that he had been subject to racial discrimination and that the arbitration agreement should not prevent his legal action from proceeding.
In Rent-a-Center, in a sharply divided 5-4 ruling, the conservative majority of the Supreme Court reached out to create a new rule of pleading that makes it difficult for hard-working Americans to seek justice in the federal courts to enforce their federal rights, including the right to be free of racial discrimination in employment.
"The Roberts Court," Franken said, "has systematically dismantled the legal protections that help ordinary people find justice when wronged by the economically powerful."
Franken then ticked off a number of high court decisions that he said have "stripped shareholders of their ability to" recover money from firms that have defrauded them, and that have "given employers more leeway to deny workers their pension benefits."
In the recent Iqbal case, Franken noted, the conservative high court majority "made it harder for everybody to get their day in court."
See video or download a transcript of Franken's speech here.