Green Tree Financial Corp. v. Bazzle, 539 U.S. 444, 13 (2003)

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Rehnquist, C. J., dissenting

The agreement to arbitrate involved here, like many such agreements, is terse. Its operative language is contained in one sentence:

"All disputes, claims, or controversies arising from or relating to this contract or the relationships which result from this contract . . . shall be resolved by binding arbitration by one arbitrator selected by us with consent of you." App. 34.

The decision of the arbitrator on matters agreed to be submitted to him is given considerable deference by the courts. See Major League Baseball Players Assn. v. Garvey, 532 U. S. 504, 509-510 (2001) (per curiam). The Supreme Court of South Carolina relied on this principle in deciding that the arbitrator in this case did not abuse his discretion in allowing a class action. 351 S. C. 244, 266-268, 569 S. E. 2d 349, 361- 362 (2002). But the decision of what to submit to the arbitrator is a matter of contractual agreement by the parties, and the interpretation of that contract is for the court, not for the arbitrator. As we stated in First Options of Chicago, Inc. v. Kaplan, 514 U. S. 938, 945 (1995):

"[G]iven 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."

Just as fundamental to the agreement of the parties as what is submitted to the arbitrator is to whom it is submitted. Those are the two provisions in the sentence quoted above, and it is difficult to say that one is more important than the other. I have no hesitation in saying that the choice of arbitrator is as important a component of the agree-

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