On Wednesday, the Supreme Court was disrupted by protesters standing up and shouting about the court’s 2010 controversial Citizens United decision.
Five years ago, Supreme Court justices ruled that, in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, political expenditures of corporations and unions are protected under the first amendment. In effect, this means organizations can donate money and work for campaigns as much as they want, which has led to a huge influx of money in politics.
As court opened, Chief Justice John Roberts was prepared to announce the court’s opinions when he was cut off by the first protester who shouted, "We are the 99%.”
Justice Roberts tried to pass the outburst off as a joke, and went on “Our second order of business today is …” before he was cut off by a second protester.
Garrett Epps, a professor at the University of Baltimore, who was in court, told CNN there were seven protesters in court, shouting statements such as, "money is not speech" and "overturn Citizens United.”
Kathleen L. Arberg, the court's public information officer, said in a statement that the outburst involved eight people. Seven were charged with making "a harangue or oration, or uttering loud, threatening or abusive language in the Supreme Court.”
The eighth person was also charged with "conspiracy-related offenses.”
A group called 99rise has taken credit for the incident. The group, which calls itself a grassroots organization trying to eliminate money from politics, released a statement which read, in part: "We have seen the consequences of the free flow of private money rushing into our public political system."
After the protesters were escorted from the court room, Justice Roberts said, “We will now continue with our tradition of having open court in the Supreme Court building."