Kai Newkirk And 99Rise Make History With Illegal Patriotic Action

History was recently made in the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States.)

Evidently two members of the activist group 99Rise have the distinction of being the first persons to ever commit the crime of video recording a portion of a session of the Supreme Court. They captured Kai Newkirk, the group's co-founder, stand up and speak, uninvited, during a session of the Supreme Court.

Newkirk is one of only a handful of individuals to ever interrupt a Supreme Court session by speaking without permission. In the past 20 years, there have only been three such instances.

99Rise is a group of activists whose goal is to stop the corruption caused by money in the political arena in the United States of America. It's hard to imagine choosing a more challenging goal, but its members are undaunted. This group should probably adopt the motto; 'Every thousand mile journey begins with the first step.' 99Rise originally come out of the Los Angeles portion of the Occupy movement in 2011 and has spread to become a national force in the ensuing years.

Their immediate goal was, and continues to be, overturning the 2010 Supreme Court United Citizen decision that allowed corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns. Since then, there has been another case that is now being decided by the SCOTUS, that would give wealthy individuals the same rights as corporations.

The case is McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. It was in the October, 2013 oral arguments session for this case in the Supreme Court, that Newkirk's civil disobedience action took place. It was only in the last days of February, 2014 that it became public knowledge that at least two video recordings were made of Newkirk's statement in the Court's chamber. They have yet to announce why they waited to post the videos on their website. It is within the realm of possibility that additional criminal charges could be brought upon Newkirk. His arrest was for the crime of, “haranguing.” (I kid you not.)

Here is the definition of harangue. “A long pompous speech, especially one delivered before a gathering.” Pompous, for the record, is defined as, “… pretentious, exaggerated self esteem.”

Here is what Newkirk actually said: “I rise on behalf of the vast majority of the American people who believe money is not speech, corporations are not people, and government should not be for sale to the highest bidder. We demand that you overturn Citizens United, keep the cap in McCutcheon, and an end to corruption. We demand free and fair elections and a real democracy now.”

Well, that hardly seems long. The only people for whom it might seem pretentious, are probably individuals who oppose free and fair elections. Based on the arrest charge, it seems to me like Newkirk will be found, not guilty. If he is convicted, he could do sixty days in the proverbial hole.

Newkirk spent one night in jail after the arrest. He said it's a small price to pay for freedom. I get the feeling that even if he has to spend 60 more days at the crossbar hotel, he will say the same thing.

A number of SCOTUS analysts are predicting that they will side with the plaintiff and do away with spending limits for individuals donating to federal elections. That would be just another step away from the USA that we remember from our childhoods.

There is a false populist argument that says that if the Supreme Court sides with Sean McCutcheon, it is a good thing for citizens, because it gives them equal footing with corporations, that, thanks to the Citizen United decision, have no limits to their ability to fund campaigns. The answer to that is that doubling down on a wrong does not make zero wrongs. It makes two wrongs.

McCutcheon claims to be fighting for all of the citizens of the USA. That is patently absurd. Most citizens would never contribute more to elections campaign than what is currently allowed. The only people who want no limits are extremely wealthy individuals who, just as their corporate counterparts, want to create laws that are favorable to their ability to profit.

The answer to the wrong of the Citizen United decision is to repeal it; not to give individuals the same influence as corporations. The Supreme Court could revisit their decision and repeal it. Don't hold your breath on that one.

A constitutional amendment could repeal it. More specifically, it would create a Constitutional law that supersedes it. But… how is a Constitutional amendment made? Our founding fathers didn't want to make it very easy to make changes to their baby, so there are only a couple ways, and they range in degree of difficulty from very, to extremely.

Three fourths of the state legislatures, which is currently 38, have to vote to yes to make a Constitutional amendment. As difficult as that is, there is a previous hurdle that must be made first.

Two thirds of both houses of Congress must vote, to send the amendment proposal to the states. There must be quorum present for such a vote to be valid. A quorum means the majority of members of Congress (one member more than half) are present.

A move to repeal the Citizen United decision will not get much traction among most of the members of Congress. That is because they are mostly criminals. They love big money corruption in federal politics. They owe their positions to it.

Without outside pressure, they aren't about to vote against it. It would be like expecting your dog to vote against ever getting left overs from your dinner again.

The other way the Constitution can be amended is for three fourth of the states legislatures to vote to have Congress call for a Constitutional convention. It has never been done, to date. Of course, a lot of things were never done before, until they were done.

Throughout the nation's history, Congress never wanted to have a Constitutional convention to add an amendment because the delegates would be able to affect more than one particular amendment. They could conceivably make all kinds of changes to the Constitution. (Of course, at this point, Congress has run roughshod over that document, with all kinds of laws that violate it.)

The fear of a, “runaway convention,” is not irrational, but there is a way to use the possibility of such a national Constitutional convention to force Congress to vote to send an amendment to the states that would put limits on the amount of money any person or corporation could contribute to a federal political campaign.

This method was used to change to way senators are elected. Originally, and for well more than 100 years, senators were elected by their state legislatures. There was a groundswell of support to switch to election through popular vote of the citizenry, just like the House of Representatives.

Starting in the 1890s, the House would vote for such a change, but every time, efforts would die in the Senate. Finally, state legislatures started voting for a national convention. The fear of a runaway convention inspired the Senators to vote to allow the amendment to go to the states for the ratification process in 1912. Enough states voted for it by the end of 1913, so it was ratified that year.

By the way, when Congress sends an amendment proposal to the states, Congress has the choice to allow the state legislatures to vote, or to call for state ratifying conventions in each state, in which the delegates to the conventions cast the votes. The only time Congress opted for the state conventions was with the 21st amendment, which repealed the 18th amendment, the prohibition of alcohol.

The reason Congress went that route was due to the widespread belief that the temperance lobby might have had the majority of state legislators in their back pocket.

99Rise would welcome any method for throwing out Supreme Court's decisions that have fomented political corruption including the Buckley v Valeo decision of 1976 that initially introduced the concept that money is speech, (which was further cemented in the Citizen United decision), as well as multiple decisions which ruled that corporations are people.

They have an interesting working model for their organization. It is based on the principle of a starfish. If you cut off a limb of a starfish, it will not only regenerate the limb, but the limb itself is capable of regenerating another starfish. Hence, 99Rise trains activists to create local chapters that become self replicating.

For more information on 99Rise, click here.

To see the historic SCOTUS civil disobedience video, click here.

Politics | Rights

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