Global Travel and the amici curiae supporting its position assert that the Fourth District decision contravenes the requirement in the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) that questions as to the enforcement of an arbitration agreement be resolved in favor of arbitration, and misapplies public policy by ignoring parents’ authority to enter into contracts on behalf of their children. The father and the amici curiae supporting his position assert that the issue is one of state law not governed by the FAA, that the Fourth District correctly applied state law in holding that the mother’s agreement to binding arbitration on behalf of her son is unenforceable, and that the public policy of protecting children’s interests overcomes parents’ right to raise their minor children and authority to enter into contracts on behalf of their minor children.
A. EFFECT OF FEDERAL LAW
Initially, we reject Global Travel’s assertion that enforcement of the arbitration agreement is mandated by federal law. Although the Federal Arbitration Act, which applies to both federal and state court proceedings, reflects a strong federal policy in favor of enforcement of agreements to arbitrate, the FAA also provides that an arbitration agreement may be ruled unenforceable “upon such grounds as exist at law or in equity for the revocation of any contract.” 9 U.S.C. Section: 2 (2000). The United States Supreme Court has held that under this provision,
state law, whether of legislative or judicial origin, is applicable if that law arose to govern issues concerning the validity, revocability, and enforceability of contracts generally. A state-law principle that takes its meaning precisely from the fact that a contract to arbitrate is at issue does not comport with this requirement of Section: 2.