In a 5-4 decision on January 21, 2010, the Supreme Court of the United States, in the case of Citizens United v Federal Election Commission, ruled that the First Amendment prohibits the federal government from putting limits on political spending by corporations. The ruling allowed unlimited amounts of money from undisclosed sources to be spent on political campaigns.
“Citizens United is a group that says it is ‘dedicated to restoring our government to citizens’ control,’ but they really mean they want only the wealthiest individuals and corporations controlling the government,” says Ralph Kabakoff, a Facilitator of Occupy Reading.
We, the People, believe that rights protected by the Constitution are for natural persons. The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.
The Citizens United decision has allowed corporations to further wrest the reins of government from We, the People. Our system is weakened when corporations possess inalienable Constitutional rights to influence public opinion, shape public laws, and mold public officials.
The assault on democracy caused by the Citizens United ruling can be seen in the rise of so-called Super PACs (Political Action Committees). Super PACs are front groups with no limit on how much money people or corporations can contribute. There have been calls for a Constitutional amendment to undo the Citizens United ruling.
Occupy Reading marked the two year anniversary of the ruling by joining with movements across the U.S. to call attention to their opposition to the Citizens United decision. A diverse group of citizen activists gathered outside the Berks County Services Center and Courthouse for the event. A lively bit of street theater illustrated their points.
Characters such as Uncle Sam, the Statue of Liberty, a wealthy bankster, and a corporate CEO participated in the presentation. Chants, mic checks so familiar to the Occupy movement, and music made for a lively production. A fitting end to the Courthouse event was the playing of “Taps” while cards representing the death of democracy were placed into a wooden coffin. The ‘funeral’ cortege then marched down Penn Street and ‘occupied’ the Penn Street Bridge for the usual Friday afternoon vigil.
Stay tuned for more from the fine folks of Occupy Reading.