Grassroots Group at It Again: 99Rise Releases Video of SCOTUS Protest


Over the weekend a grassroots group called 99Rise posted a video of an unprecedented January 21 demonstration in the Supreme Court courtroom that interrupted proceedings for several minutes.

The usually silent dealings at the high court were briefly held captive by 7 demonstrators protesting on the fifth anniversary of the court’s controversial Citizens United decision.

Just as Chief Justice Roberts was beginning to announce that day’s opinions, the protesters stood one-by-one, announcing slogans such as “Money is not speech,” “One person, one vote” and “We are the 99 percent.”

At first, the Chief attempted to make light of the situation. After the first, and seemingly lone, protester was tackled by the Supreme Court Police, Roberts remarked, “We will now proceed with our second order of business.”

But as more demonstrators stood in protest, the Chief appeared to become irritated, uttering “Oh please,” and even directing police to other protesters.

The group claims that the video is only the second video released from inside the Supreme Court chamber, the first being a similar demonstration put on by the group in 2014 during oral arguments in McCutheon v. FEC—a case the group refers to as “Citizens United, Part 2.”

The self-proclaimed “most transparent branch of government” notoriously does not allow cameras in the courtroom—official or otherwise. Transcripts from oral arguments are uploaded on the court’s website each argument day, with audio recordings following later in the week.

A January 21 statement from the court’s Public Information Office said that the seven protesters were charged with violations of federal law, Supreme Court Building Regulations and D.C. Code, including prohibitions on demonstrations on the courthouse grounds. Another individual—along with the original seven—was also charged with conspiracy-related offenses.

On its website, 99Rise identifies all seven demonstrators, and claims that they were released from custody after spending the night in jail. Among their principles is to continue to “take escalating nonviolent action.”

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