Supreme Court Upholds Rule of Law in Epic Systems Corp v. Lewis
“We are a nation of laws, not of men.” –John Adams
When John Adams articulated this principle, he established a vital precedent for future leaders. Justice is not based on an individual’s whims or opinions, but on laws and the Constitution. And thankfully, the Supreme Court upheld this principle in a recent ruling on employment agreements.
The Supreme Court handed down a 5-4 opinion in Epic Systems Corp v. Lewis which says that businesses can prohibit employees from going against their contract by banding together in disputes over pay and conditions in the workplace.
As Justice Neil Gorsuch writes in the majority opinion, “As a matter of policy these questions are surely debatable. But as a matter of law the answer is clear. In the Federal Arbitration Act, Congress has instructed federal courts to enforce arbitration agreements according to their terms — including terms providing for individualized proceedings.” We need to keep in the proper venues – the court decides constitutionality, while Congress decides what is good policy.
As this opinion piece from the Washington Times excellently illustrates, “Liberals believe generally that the government should step in and regulate everything, including intervening and advocating for one party when that party ‘needs’ the government. Conservatives believe generally that government regulation and oversight should be limited to review and not substituting its own judgment for either congressional action (i.e. Chevron deference) or an individual’s action. Part of freedom and liberty we enjoy is the opportunity to make bad decisions and learn from them.”
Regardless of the feasibility or practicality of such a law, it is ultimately not the burden of the judiciary to rule on the benefits or disadvantages of policy. It is their job to determine a law’s constitutionality, and the legislative branch’s task is to repeal bad laws and replace them with better ones. And in this instance, the Supreme Court got it right: laws and contracts mean what they say. An employee cannot sign an agreement and then decide he doesn’t like it anymore and take action that violates said agreement. The court shouldn’t step in and rectify the consequences of a bad decision someone might make.
If we don’t have the freedom to make and learn from our mistakes, we do not have the freedom to make good decisions either.