The Tea Party movement's disdain for big, unchecked government power and the Occupy movement's disdain for big, unchecked banking power can find common ground in the effort to end never-intended corporate "personhood" constitutional rights. Both should help organize one-day occupations at more than 75 federal courthouses across the country on January 20, 2012.
The major concerns of many within the Tea Party are rising taxes, increasing spending, exploding debt and the lack of true political representation. The major issues sparking the Occupation movement was and remains the growing wealth gap, Wall Street bailouts and speculation, home foreclosures, lack of free speech and assembly rights, and lack of true political representation.
The root of the concerns of both movements have less to do with specific politicians, political parties, corporations, CEOs, regulations or laws. The cores of all these problems are several defining rules enshrined and shielded by constitutional decisions - specifically those anointing corporations as persons and equating money as speech.
Such definition or control in the past has including prohibiting corporations from directly or indirectly engaging in political activities, including lobbying or donating corporate funds to issue campaigns or in support of political candidates. They also have permitted the public to examine corporate books for fraud, inspect corporate facilities for unsafe working conditions, and pass local laws ensuring the health, safety and welfare of citizens and communities.
The Supremes also exerted their judicial activism in their 1976 Buckley v. Valeo decision, also ruled 5-4, equating money as political speech. If money is speech, as opposed to it being property like land and other physical possessions, then those with the most money possess the greatest political speech. That's not a recipe for democracy, but of plutocracy - which fairly accurately describes our current political system.
Occupy the Courts is an educational and organizing vehicle for shedding light and heat in the middle of the dark and cold winter that real authentic self governance on behalf of all the issues and concerns Tea Partiers and Occupiers care about is not possible unless the defining rules governing corporations and money are changed.
In the past, massive social movements led by women, people of color, and young people have driven themselves into the constitution through amendments - where they should have existed all along. Today, a massive social movement of people from all backgrounds is needed to drive corporations and money out of the constitution - where they were never intended.
It's time to Occupy the Courts.
Coleridge is Director of the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee. Schultz is a Move to Amend activist in Ohio