A Sleeping Giant Awakens: Protesters Angry About Citizens United Interrupt Supreme Court

Protesters interrupted the Supreme Court yesterday to draw attention to the fact that this court sold our nation to the highest bidders with the Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions. Citizens United allowed political action committees to raise virtually unlimited amounts of money for the candidates and parties of their choosing. McCutcheon removed individual campaign donation limits, allowing the wealthy to buy as many candidates as they want.

All the protesters were in the courtroom as oral arguments in a case involving bankruptcy law got underway. One protester stood and said, “I rise to claim our democracy, one person, one vote,” according to the Star Tribune. Other protesters rose in succession.

Initially, Chief Justice John Roberts joked about the idea of a bankruptcy case garnering such attention. But as the protesters continued, he warned them that they could be charged with criminal contempt if they didn’t stop.

The group behind this protest is known as 99rise, and this isn’t the first time they’ve protested inside the Supreme Court. Their website carries the following statement on it:

We are building a nationwide movement to get big money out of American politics through nonviolent action. It’s time to reclaim our democracy. Will you join us?

They have local teams in California, Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, and the District of Columbia, and they’re 15,000 strong right now and growing. They believe that the only way to take back the government and make it work for the people again, instead of the wealthy elite, is through nonviolent protest on a massive scale.

According to The Hill, Belinda Rodriguez, one of the protesters present in the Supreme Court yesterday, said in a statement:

The Supreme Court is deeply complicit in the corruption of our democracy.

Their McCutcheon and Citizens United rulings have allowed corporations and billionaires to essentially buy our elections with unlimited sums of campaign cash, silencing the vast majority of voters. We’re here to send a message that the American people won’t stand for it.

Awhile back, one of Missouri’s state legislators wrote about why he wants to reinstate Missouri’s campaign finance limits. One of the things he did was explain how money can work  in politics: Essentially, someone contributes a large sum of money to your election or re-election campaign. Later on, a bill comes to your committee that will hurt one of their interests. They write to you, asking you to quietly kill it, and, knowing that their checks will go to someone else if you don’t do what they ask, you kill it. It doesn’t matter if that bill would have helped thousands, or millions, or children, or the elderly. You killed it because you need their checks.

That’s what Citizens United and McCutcheon have done to our legislative process, and it’s sick and wrong. We’ve become an oligarchy. We’re not a democracy, however much we keep hearing that word from Republican and Tea Party “patriots.”

Supreme Court police removed the five protesters from the courtroom fairly quickly after they stood up, according to the AP’s article. Six people took place in the protest.

Image by Daderot. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

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