Politics and Public Opinion, Law and the Constitution

A Powerful Critique of Modern Class-action Practice

In honor of the Federal Trade Commission’s proposed guidelines regulating blogger speech (just kidding), I would like to put in a plug for a great new book, which I received free of charge. Martin Redish’s Wholesale Justice: Constitutional Democracy and the Problem of the Class Action Lawsuit (Stanford Law Books 2009) provides a powerful critique of modern class-action practice. Redish argues that the class action raises not only practical concerns given widespread abuses, but also constitutional concerns by effectively changing substantive law through a purportedly procedural device, and by sweeping large numbers of individuals into litigation without their explicit consent, thereby violating their due process rights. His work provides a basis for reforming the federal rules to limit the use of class actions. It is a work that is accessible to a general audience and yet at the same time makes a valuable contribution to civil procedure scholarship, one that Redish has already built upon, undertaking an empirical study demonstrating the abuse of charitable grants in class-action practice and associated constitutional problems.

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