WHOA! Scientology to Judge Kleifield: Wrecking human lives IS our 'commerce' - 2020-12-04
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Steven Kleifield shocked us last month when he vacated a hearing in the lawsuit between Danny Masterson's rape accusers and the That '70s Show actor and the Church of Scientology. Kleifield wiped out the hearing and then asked Scientology's attorneys to submit a new argument for its motion to force the plaintiffs into "religious arbitration."
Scientology has been on a winning streak with its arbitration strategy in lawsuits brought by former members. The church argues that Scientologists sign contracts that contain arbitration clauses that preclude them from suing in a court of law. Twice previously judges have denied former Scientologists the right to a trial because they signed such agreements. And now, for a third time, Scientology looked like it was well on its way to derailing another lawsuit by forcing Chrissie Carnell Bixler and the other women suing Masterson into Scientology's version of arbitration.
But then Kleifield stunned both sides by pointing out something neither of them had brought up. Scientology's gambit of forcing arbitration on its former members was based on the Federal Arbitration Act, which became law in 1926. Kleifield noted, however, that the act governed agreements of "commerce," and was it really commerce, the stuff of dollars and cents, which was at stake in this lawsuit? These women are alleging that they've been stalked and harassed and slandered because they came forward to the police with their rape allegations. What does that have to do with contracts that govern commercial transactions?