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Occupy Courts wants Supreme Court reversal on campaign spending

January 20, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
The Occupy the Courts protest took the tone of a teach-in. Speakers addressed a diverse crowd near the Roybal federal courthouse calling for a reversal to a Supreme Court decision that changed campaign finance law.

"It essentially has opened the floodgate to unlimited corporate campaign donations to influence our elections," said Move to Amend protester Mary Beth Fielder. Move to Amend is the grassroots organization that spearheaded Friday's events.

The original case was Citizen's United v. Federal Election Commission. The justices voted five to four affirming that:

"Political spending is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment, and the government may not keep corporations or unions from spending money to support or denounce individual candidates in elections."

In Washington, D.C., demonstrators mocked the justices and signed a giant petition calling for an amendment to the Constitution. The protesters believe that a corporation is not a human being and therefore not eligible for First Amendment protection.

In Santa Ana, and nearly 100 cities across the nation, protesters decried Super Political Action Committees (super PACs), which came as a result of the ruling. Super PACs gather millions of dollars to elect or defeat a candidate.

In the GOP race, candidate Rick Santorum got $50,000 from his super PAC billionaire Foster Friess. But In most cases, donor identities are not disclosed. The only restriction on super PACs is that they have no guidance from the candidate.

"We've opened up the door for all kinds of other entities that might have interests that are in conflict with the interests of us, the American people," Fielder said.

There are 250 superPACs, according to the Center for Public Integrity, a federal watchdog group. It estimates that $1 billion will be spent from super PACS in the coming election cycle.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.