Public Comment

Mic Check! Occupy the Courts Jan 20: beginning 8:00 AM in Oakland; noon in SF.

By Christina Tuccillo and Phoebe Anne Sorgen
Wednesday January 18, 2012 - 12:18:00 AM

For excellent reasons, dozens of organizations and hundreds of thousands of people support the need for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United v Federal Election Commission Supreme Court ruling of Jan. 21, 2010 and prior anti-democratic SCOTUS rulings that a corporation is a person and that money is speech. A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 80% of Americans oppose the Citizens United ruling, and a Harris poll found that 87% think big companies have too much influence in Washington.

The Occupy Berkeley General Assembly reached consensus twice to support two local Jan. 20, 2012 "Occupy the Courts" actions organized by members of Move to Amend, Occupy Oakland, and Occupy SF. These are outdoor, permitted protests: 

Starting at 8:00 AM - Oakland Federal Courthouse on Clay St., between 13th/14th Streets -

Starting at Noon - San Francisco 9th District Court of Appeals, 7th Street at Mission -  

Over 100 Occupy the Courts actions will occur nationwide, including at the Supreme Court. 

If we want the voice of a teacher to be able to get through the din of attack ads financed by for-profit transnational corporations and billionaires, we need change, or the megaphone of the 1% will continue drowning out We the People's free speech. With the goal of creating a truly democratic society, limiting corporate influence over elections is necessary. With increased regulation of electoral expenditures, maybe we'd get real debates rather than factually incorrect hit-pieces!  

While local and state governments can still regulate campaign spending minimally, because of Citizens United Congress can no longer regulate what comes through Political Action Committees, or PACs. That's a LOT of money. (PACs are private groups that are organized to elect political candidates or advance the outcome of legislation. While they are not run by specific candidates, they may still openly support candidates and be run by former employees of those candidates.) 

Money is not free speech -- it's spending. A corporation is not a person – it’s an artificial entity set up to maximize profits. 

According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, “The historic election of 2008 re-confirmed one truism about American democracy: Money wins elections. From the top of the ticket, where Barack Obama declined public financing for the first time since the system's creation and went on to amass a nearly two-to-one monetary advantage over John McCain, to congressional races throughout the nation, the candidate with the most money going into Election Day emerged victorious in nearly every contest. In 93% of House of Representatives races and 94% of Senate races..., the candidate who spent the most money ended up winning." The findings were based on candidates' spending, and didn't even factor in corporate spending on hit pieces such as Citizens United. 

Money does win elections, which is a huge problem. Big money buying our democracy is one of THE root causes of many of the problems of our era: 

A subscriber to the Occupy Berkeley listserv, who has rarely come to OB in person, recently published in the Daily Planet a critique of the OB General Assembly decision to support Occupy the Courts. We wrote this in response to what we consider to be his distorted commentary entitled "Mic Check?! State Run Political Campaigns." In the unlikely event that the U.S. government were able to forbid all campaign contributions, the outcome would be preferable to having corporations, super rich candidates, and their backers put million$ into elections that support their profits when many of us can't even cough up $100.  

We continue to be active members of Occupy Berkeley. We are on the facilitation team for the General Assemblies and on the OB Peace Working Group. We invite you to join us in our efforts to create a democracy that responds to the needs of the 99% and is not for sale to the highest bidder. 



“Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.” - Rosa Luxemburg