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The case, Rent-a-Center Inc. v. Jackson, is an important one to consumer advocates, who assert that judges should be empowered to make the threshold determination about whether an arbitration agreement is "unconscionable."

Arbitrators, critics say, routinely side with business defendants. But proponents say that arbitration is a fair, efficient, and relatively inexpensive way to resolve disputes. 

The plaintiff in the case, Rent-a-Center  employee Antonio Jackson, claimed that the binding arbitration agreement he signed when he started work was unconscionable, because he had no alternative but to sign it if he wanted the job. 

Writing for the majority, Justice Scalia reasoned that Jackson had consented to have disputes settled by arbitration, and it made "no difference" that the dispute at issue happened to be about the enforceability of the arbitration agreement itself. 

Four conservatives, Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas and Alito, joined the opinion. 

Dissenting Justice Stevens wrote that the result made no sense. If the arbitration agreement is "so one-sided and the process of its making so unfair" then it was unreasonable to assume Jackson truly assented to put that very question to the arbitrator.

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