More than 1,000 people gathered on Ocean Beach in San Francisco, Calif. over the weekend, laying down in the sand to send a message.
"Dump Citizens United!" their bodies read, as seen from an overhead view.
(Photo by John Montgomery)
The Supreme Court's 2010 Citizen United ruling found that First Amendment protections of free speech applied to corporations and unions wishing to inject cash into political elections. The court's decision has since led to the creation of independent super PACs, which are allowed to spend unlimited sums of money on political endeavors. So far, they've drawn more than $350 million in contributions, around 68 percent of which has come from wealthy donors chipping in $500,000 or more.
The San Francisco event was organized by Brad Newsham, a San Francisco cab driver and activist, in conjunction with netroots community The Other 98 Percent and a stable of other pro-democracy organizations.
“The 2010 Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United trampled on America’s founding principles, swamped our democracy in corporate cash and needs to be overturned,” Newsham said in a statement to The Other 98 Percent. “Some truths are so self-evident that the Founders felt no need to mention them. Truths like, ‘Corporations are NOT People.’ ‘Money is NOT Speech.’ ‘Elections are NOT Auctions ... But in the shadow of Citizens United, we all have to step up and protect America’s sacred principles. That’s why over a thousand of us came out today to make this beautiful, people-powered statement: ‘DUMP CITIZENS UNITED!’”
San Francisco lawmakers have set their sights on tackling the effects of Citizens United. Residents will get to vote on Proposition G in November, which, if passed, would serve as a strong statement against corporate personhood.
Congressional Democrats have also attempted to counter the political spending free-for-all with legislation that would increase disclosure of money given to and spent by super PACs.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a longtime champion of campaign finance reform who nonetheless opposed these Democratic efforts, recently characterized Citizens United as the Supreme Court's "worst decision ever."
“They said money is free speech. Since when is money free speech?” McCain said at an event last week. “Money is money.”