OCCUPY THE COURTS – 1.20.2012!
by Stephen A. Justino
What a difference two years makes!
On January 21, 2010 the United States United State Supreme Court handed down its now-infamous decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission transforming the United States from a small “d,” small “r” democratic republic into a corporatocracy, and hardly anybody noticed!
Fast-forward to tomorrow - January 20, 2012. Pro-democracy advocates across the country will be marking the second anniversary of the Citizens United decision by participating in a coordinated, one-day, peaceful occupation of the public spaces in front federal courthouses, including the United States Supreme Court, in Washington, D.C.
This national day of action, organized by Move To Amend, is called OCCUPY THE COURTS - 1.20.2012! and, as of today, there are 130 cities (in 46 states) participating in it!
Life in a post-Citizens United world has given Americans a rude awaking. We were assaulted by an unprecedented barrage of negative political attack ads, paid for in large part by the unlimited, mostly anonymous, corporate campaign contributions made legal by the Citizens United decision, during the 2010 mid-term elections. We watched in disgust as ALEC-backed governors like Scott Walker, Rick Kasich, and Rick Scott have mounted a frontal assault on the middle-class and democratic process. And, we have reacted in utter disbelief as the new Tea Party Congress, swept into power on that tidal wave of corporate cash, threatened to cause a global economic collapse unless the government agreed to protect tax breaks for the richest Americans.
Seeing the economic, and political, devastation that has been left in the wake of the Citizens United decision, Americans have said ENOUGH!
The main purpose of OCCUPY THE COURTS is to protest the Supreme Court’s absurd Citizens United decision and, to urge the Congress to pass Move to Amend’s proposed 28th Amendment. Unlike the other constitutional amendments that have been introduced into the House and the Senate, recently, Move to Amend’s proposed 28th Amendment states clearly, and unequivocally, that: 1) rights recognized under the Constitution belong to human beings, ONLY (with NO exceptions and NO loopholes); and, 2) spending money to influence elections is NOT protected free speech under the First Amendment.
In other words, Move to Amend’s proposed amendment would change the Constitution so that it says, clearly and unequivocally, that “Corporations are NOT People!” and “Money is NOT Speech.”
Move to Amend will also be using OCCUPY THE COURTS to kick off its 2012 initiative to have at least 50 cities across the country pass citizen-sponsored ballot measures calling for an amendment to the U.S. constitution to end “corporate personhood.” In 2011, Madison, WI; Boulder, CO, and Missoula, MT all passed ballot measures by wide margins. In Boulder and Missoula, the ballot measures passed with about 75% of the vote. In Madison, the voters supported the ballot measure 80% to 20%!
Alternatively, in cities where citizen-sponsored ballot measures are not available, Move to Amend will be encouraging citizens to lobby their city councils to pass a resolution in support of an amendment to the constitution to end “corporate personhood.” In the past two months, city council resolutions calling for an end to all corporate constitutional rights have passed in Los Angeles; New York City; Albany, NY; and Portland, OR.
When you combine these electoral victories with both the strong expressions of support from the city councils of the two largest cities in the country and the recent, stunning, decision from the Montana Supreme Court refusing to apply Citizens United to strike down Montana’s century old campaign finance laws, it is clear that the mood in the country has changed.
The effects of “corporate personhood” and “money as speech” have given rise to a new generation of patriots willing to take to the streets in peaceful protest to demand that political power be restored to the People. You can join in that effort by coming out on January 20, 2012 to join an OCCUPY THE COURTS protest at a federal court in your hometown or near-by. View the OCCUPY THE COURTS map here to find the OCCUPY THE COURTS event near you.
We hope to see you there!
(Stephen Justino is an attorney in Denver, Colorado. He is Co-Chair of Colorado Move to Amend, and National Action Coordinator for Move to Amend’s OCCUPY THE COURTS – 1.20.2012!)