Citizen Action Monitor

Activists rally at U.S. courts to call for reversal of Citizens United decision

No 390 Posted by fw, January 23, 2012

“Roughly about a half dozen corporations – Viacom, General Electric, Newscorp, Disney – control almost everything most Americans – 90 percent of Americans – see, watch, read or hear. You can go into the Internet but you have to be proactive. And the fact is the mass of Americans are passive – receivers of information. They are not proactive.”Chris Hedges, from his January 9, 2012 talk to an Occupy Washington DC (Freedom Plaza) gathering about his book, Death of the Liberal Class.

“2012 is an election year. And record amounts of corporate money are expected to be spent on campaigning advertisements as the United States enters its third year under Citizens United. Move to Amend is engaged in a national campaign to amend the Constitution in order to reverse the decision. Occupy Movements are also stepping up coordinated national events like Friday’s in order to combat corporate domination of political and social life in the United States.”David Dougherty, The Real News Network (TRNN)

If Chris Hedges is right that “the mass of Americans are passive receivers of information” – and there is abundant evidence to prove that he is – then I have even greater respect for those relatively small numbers of resolute American activists who refuse to yield to America’s corporate powerbrokers and morally bankrupt politicians, who, in George Carlin’s immortal words“… count on the fact that Americans will remain wilfully ignorant” of the fact that they’re being screwed.

So I salute those great Americans who, on the second anniversary of the landmark Citizens United court decision, took to the streets to demonstrate at the U.S. Supreme Court and courts across the nation to fight for a reversal of this despicable Supreme Court decision. BRAVO!

Watch this 4-minute video of interviews with 3 of the spokespersons who participated in the protest. My transcript follows the video.

Occupy Movements Rally at Courts Across the Country, Uploaded by TheRealNews on Jan 22, 2012

TRANSCRIPT

David Dougherty, The Real News Network (TRNN) — Demonstrators rallied on the steps of the United States Supreme Court in Washington on Friday to mark the two-year anniversary of the landmark court decision Citizens United versus the Federal Election Commission. Similar actions were held all across the country as participants protested corporate personhood and two years of unlimited private dollars in election campaigns. The event was organized by the Occupy Movement and the Move to Amend coalition, whose spokesperson David Cobb was present at Friday’s rally in Washington DC.

David Cobb, Spokesperson, Move to Amend coalition – In the two years since the Citizens United decision we have seen a deluge of corporate money and special interest money come into American elections. American elections are literally for sale now, and we have seen the most expensive election in the history, not only of the Unites States, but the history of the world. More money is going to be spent in the 2012 election than has ever been spent in the history of humanity. And most of that money is coming from large transnational corporations, many of them foreign corporations. And we don’t even know where that money is coming from, and that is because of the outrageous decision Citizens United versus the Federal Election Commission.

David Dougherty, TRNN – The Supreme Court decision delivered by a 5 to 4 majority on January 21, 2010 held that corporations have the same First Amendment rights as individuals and could spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaign advertising. Proponents of the decision hailed it as a victory for free speech rights but opponents like Alec Kerestesi of Occupy Faith, an interfaith support network for Occupy Movements, says that Citizens United has had the opposite effect on freedom of speech.

Alex Kerestesi, Occupy Faith – It makes it more difficult for the voices of the actual individuals to be heard. When somebody has a lot of money and backs a politician, they’re more likely to be heard. It’s common sense. So if there’s suddenly a corporation, who is treated as an individual, who also has lots of money, it just kind of takes the whole thing and flips it on its head that makes it hard for those of us who are slightly more poor to be heard no matter how many of us there are because we’re not seen as one giant collective. We’re seen as small individuals versus this giant individual who has lots of money.

David Dougherty, TRNN – Corporations were not the only entity addressed by the Citizens United decision. Labor unions were also granted the broader powers to spend money on election campaign ads. Demonstrator Laura Unger works with Communications Workers of America, a union that she says simply does not have the financial resources to influence political campaigns on the same scale as the larger corporate employers like Verizon that she and other employees must bargain with.

Laura Unger, Communications Workers of America — The amount of money that the companies have is – I don’t remember the exact figure — but it’s hundreds and hundreds of times more than what unions can spend. In fact unions right now are – most unions including mine are in financial trouble because we’ve lost so much membership because of the terrible economy and because of the attacks on bargaining rights, we can’t possibly compete with them on money. All we can do is compete with them on trying to mobilize our members to go door to door and to educate them. But in terms of competing on money it’s like a drop compared to the Atlantic Ocean. We have no – it’s no comparison at all.

David Dougherty, TRNN – 2012 is an election year. And record amounts of corporate money are expected to be spent on campaigning advertisements as the United States enters its third year under Citizens United. Move to Amend is engaged in a national campaign to amend the Constitution in order to reverse the decision. Occupy Movements are also stepping up coordinated national events like Friday’s in order to combat corporate domination of political and social life in the United States.

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