Green Tree Financial Corp. v. Bazzle, 539 U.S. 444, 11 (2003)

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454

GREEN TREE FINANCIAL CORP. v. BAZZLE

Opinion of Stevens, J.

that the identical contract in the Bazzle case authorized class arbitration procedures. And there is no question that the arbitrator was aware of the Bazzle decision, since the Lackey plaintiffs had argued to the arbitrator that it should impose class arbitration procedures in part because the state trial court in Bazzle had done so. Record on Appeal 516-518. In the court proceedings below (where Green Tree took the opposite position), the Lackey plaintiffs maintained that "to the extent" the arbitrator decided that the contracts permitted class procedures (in the Lackey case or the Bazzle case), "it was a reaffirmation and/or adoption of [the Bazzle c]ourt's prior determination." Record on Appeal 1708, n. 2. See also App. 31-32, n. 2.

On balance, there is at least a strong likelihood in Lackey as well as in Bazzle that the arbitrator's decision reflected a court's interpretation of the contracts rather than an arbitrator's interpretation. That being so, we remand the case so that the arbitrator may decide the question of contract inter-pretation—thereby enforcing the parties' arbitration agreements according to their terms. 9 U. S. C. 2; Volt, supra, at 478-479.

The judgment of the South Carolina Supreme Court is vacated, and the case is remanded for further proceedings.

So ordered.

Justice Stevens, concurring in the judgment and dissenting in part.

The parties agreed that South Carolina law would govern their arbitration agreement. The Supreme Court of South Carolina has held as a matter of state law that class-action arbitrations are permissible if not prohibited by the applicable arbitration agreement, and that the agreement between these parties is silent on the issue. 351 S. C. 244, 262-266, 569 S. E. 2d 349, 359-360 (2002). There is nothing in the Federal Arbitration Act that precludes either of these deter-

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