Green Tree Financial Corp. v. Bazzle, 539 U.S. 444, 9 (2003)

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Opinion of Breyer, J.

parties seem to have agreed that an arbitrator, not a judge, would answer the relevant question. See First Options of Chicago, Inc. v. Kaplan, 514 U. S. 938, 943 (1995) (arbitration is a "matter of contract"). And if there is doubt about that matter—about the " 'scope of arbitrable issues' "—we should resolve that doubt " 'in favor of arbitration.' " Mitsubishi Motors Corp. v. Soler Chrysler-Plymouth, Inc., 473 U. S. 614, 626 (1985).

In certain limited circumstances, courts assume that the parties intended courts, not arbitrators, to decide a particular arbitration-related matter (in the absence of "clea[r] and unmistakabl[e]" evidence to the contrary). AT&T Technologies, Inc. v. Communications Workers, 475 U. S. 643, 649 (1986). These limited instances typically involve matters of a kind that "contracting parties would likely have expected a court" to decide. Howsam v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 537 U. S. 79, 83 (2002). They include certain gateway matters, such as whether the parties have a valid arbitration agreement at all or whether a concededly binding arbitration clause applies to a certain type of controversy. See generally Howsam, supra. See also John Wiley & Sons, Inc. v. Livingston, 376 U. S. 543, 546-547 (1964) (whether an arbitration agreement survives a corporate merger); AT&T, supra, at 651-652 (whether a labor-management layoff controversy falls within the scope of an arbitration clause).

The question here—whether the contracts forbid class arbitration—does not fall into this narrow exception. It concerns neither the validity of the arbitration clause nor its applicability to the underlying dispute between the parties. Unlike First Options, the question is not whether the parties wanted a judge or an arbitrator to decide whether they agreed to arbitrate a matter. 514 U. S., at 942-945. Rather the relevant question here is what kind of arbitration proceeding the parties agreed to. That question does not concern a state statute or judicial procedures, cf. Volt Information Sciences, Inc. v. Board of Trustees of Leland Stanford

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