Matthew Potter


The Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA") encompasses a vast spectrum of arbitration controversies. The FAA provides that "[a] written provision in .. . a contract evidencing a transaction involving commerce to settle by arbitration a controversy thereafter arising out of such contract or transaction... shall be valid, irrevocable, and enforceable."2 The preceding section of the Act, however, states that "nothing herein contained shall apply to contracts of employment of seamen, railroad employees, or any other class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce."3 In their efforts to maintain a balance between these competing interests, many courts have attempted to assemble a consistent definition of the term "commerce" throughout the act for the purpose of defining who is exempt and who is not exempt.4 This balance has not always been easily met, however, and such efforts have led to intense debates concerning the very meaning of the FAA.



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