First Options of Chicago, Inc. v. Kaplan, 514 U.S. 938, 8 (1995)

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Cite as: 514 U. S. 938 (1995)

Opinion of the Court

cause it is within the scope of a valid arbitration agreement"—for in respect to this latter question the law reverses the presumption. See Mitsubishi Motors, supra, at 626 (" '[A]ny doubts concerning the scope of arbitrable issues should be resolved in favor of arbitration' ") (quoting Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital v. Mercury Constr. Corp., 460 U. S. 1, 24-25 (1983)); Warrior & Gulf, supra, at 582-583. But, this difference in treatment is understandable. The

latter question arises when the parties have a contract that provides for arbitration of some issues. In such circumstances, the parties likely gave at least some thought to the scope of arbitration. And, given the law's permissive policies in respect to arbitration, see, e. g., Mitsubishi Motors, supra, at 626, one can understand why the law would insist upon clarity before concluding that the parties did not want to arbitrate a related matter. See Domke 12.02, p. 156 (issues will be deemed arbitrable unless "it is clear that the arbitration clause has not included" them). On the other hand, the former question—the "who (primarily) should decide arbitrability" question—is rather arcane. A party often might not focus upon that question or upon the significance of having arbitrators decide the scope of their own powers. Cf. Cox, Reflections Upon Labor Arbitration, 72 Harv. L. Rev. 1482, 1508-1509 (1959), cited in Warrior & Gulf, 363 U. S., at 583, n. 7. And, given the principle that a party can be forced to arbitrate only those issues it specifically has agreed to submit to arbitration, one can understand why courts might hesitate to interpret silence or ambiguity on the "who should decide arbitrability" point as giving the arbitrators that power, for doing so might too often force unwilling parties to arbitrate a matter they reasonably would have thought a judge, not an arbitrator, would decide. Ibid. See generally Dean Witter Reynolds Inc. v. Byrd, 470 U. S. 213, 219-220 (1985) (Arbitration Act's basic purpose is to "ensure judicial enforcement of privately made agreements to arbitrate").


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