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Civil Disobedience and 99Rise

Updated on January 22, 2015

Introduction

As I went through my daily news-reading ritual yesterday, I read CNNs’ article on 7 people who were arrested in the Supreme Court for “creating a disturbance” (1). It was reported that these protesters belong to an organization named 99Rise. Since I wasn’t familiar with the name, I googled and found their website. By reading over their site and looking for a few other sources of info, here is what I discovered.

Supreme Court Justices 2010
Supreme Court Justices 2010 | Source

Background

The group calls for action that includes a movement of non-violent civil disobedience to basically get the government back in the hands of the people, instead of in the hands of big money or “the few” (2). The root of the conflict seems to be a decision made by the Supreme Court back in 2010 that is referred to as the Citizens United Ruling (3). The ruling is summarized below in an article appearing in The Center for Public Integrity:

In a nutshell, the high court’s 5-4 decision said that it is OK for corporations and labor unions to spend as much as they want to convince people to vote for or against a candidate.

— John Dunbar, Center for Public Integrity (3)

A non-nutshell, detailed but easy-to-read version of the ruling, along with some notes on the dissenting opinions, can be found in Lisa McElroy’s blog posted 1/22/2010 (4). I am not sure it makes the ruling sound any better than Mr. Dunbar’s abbreviated version of the ruling, but the actual ruling was almost 200 pages in length, so the additional comments are worthwhile.

I should add there was a Congressional attempt last year for a new constitutional amendment that would have regulated spending on federal candidates, which would also have reversed the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling (5). However in September 2014, thehill.com reported that the Senate GOP blocked the amendment (6).

As a side note, in December 2014 the NY Times reported FEC results showing that the spending in federal races for 2014 were almost double what they were in 2010 (7). It makes even a non-suspicious person feel suspicious.

Huge Jump in Independent Expenditures During Midterms

NY Times (Federal Election Commission Data)
NY Times (Federal Election Commission Data) | Source

The Incident and the "SC7"

The incident occurred on this date due to the 5-year anniversary of the above ruling (2). According to a Huffington Post report, the co-leader of 99Rise was charged with “disturbing the proceedings” and also posts a related quick You Tube video link stated to be owned by Google, so it will not be posted here (8).

The 99Rise group posted on their site that 7 people are in police custody; and are referring to them as the “Supreme Court 7” or “SC7”. Along with options to “Like” and “Share” on Facebook, and the group is encouraging Americans to sign a petition to stand with the SC7 to defend democracy (2).

Washington D.C.
Washington D.C. | Source

Editorial Comments

After I did a little research on what they were protesting, I felt less antagonistic towards the actions the SC7 took, and more ashamed that I had not even written one letter or made one call in 2010 to protest the ruling. And in 2014, I did nothing to overtly support the potential amendment – again no letter, no phone call. Apparently I am like most other Americans who were apathetic and ignorant of the actual repercussions of the ruling. Is it really true? You spend more, you win the office?

As most Americans, I want our system to work and have always believed working within the system is the way to get things done, to change things. I would never dream an action of civil disobedience would be the thing that got my attention. We have to move forward within the laws of our land or we have failed as a civilized society. What other ideas are out there to get the elected officials supporting the people rather than corporate interests and wealthiest of Americans?

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