HARTFORD, Conn. - "Corporations Are NOT People and Money Is not Speech!" and "Get Corporate Money Out of Our Democracy" was the theme of two demonstrations held here January 19 and 20. They were part of national actions to protest the Citizens United Supreme Court decision on the second year since it became law..
Common Cause and a labor-community coalition initiated Thursday's march through Hartford. The next day, an "Occupy the Courts" protest was sponsored by Occupy Hartford and a group of concerned citizens. A similar protest and march was held by Occupy New Haven in front of the Federal Court House.
In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (Jan. 21, 2010), a bitterly divided Supreme Court overturned a century of established precedent by ruling that corporate spending on candidate elections cannot be limited under the First Amendment.
In so doing, Justices Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Kennedy effectively declared that corporations are indistinguishable from people with respect to federal law and the U.S. Constitution. As a result of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, corporations and billionaires can spend unlimited sums of money, without disclosure, in political campaigns.
The protesters expressed anger at the Wall Street, oil and coal corporations, insurance and drug companies and the military-industrial-complex who they said will weigh in with hundreds of millions of dollars to distort the truth and outright lies without disclosure or accountability to their shareholders or the public.
Massive television ads by unidentified groups flooded the airwaves in the final weeks of the 2010 election with unwarranted attacks on Democratic candidates for Congress across the country. On election day, it was clear that the impact of that massive spending had influenced voters and the results of the election which returned the House of Representatives to Republican control.
"The goal of the top 1 percent is simple," said protest organizers. "They will spend as much as it takes to elect candidates who support a right-wing corporate agenda, and they will spend as much as it takes to defeat our candidates who are fighting for us, the 99 percent."
Those who took to the streets and participated in online letters to Congress responded to questions raised by Common Cause about how the Supreme Court decision affects the future of our country.
"Will our democracy survive in which ordinary people can control their future? Or will "democracy" simply become another commodity owned and controlled by billionaires and corporations in order to serve their own purposes? The 99% say NO!"
Photo: Tom Connolly/PW