Group won't rule out taping court again

The protester whose arrest in the Supreme Court was caught on film on Friday didn’t rule out videotaping the court again.

Noah Kai Newkirk, whose group 99 Rise apparently filmed the protest in the court Wednesday, told The Hill his group has only recorded video in the high court twice, to his knowledge. 

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He said the group has no immediate plans to try to tape the court again but said it was always a possibility.

“We don’t rule out any nonviolent action that represents the will of the vast majority of people and show the moral urgency of this fight,” Newkirk said in response to a direct question about future surreptitious taping.

Newkirk would not describe the type of camera used or name the colleague who shot the footage, but he did confirm his group is responsible for the YouTube video. 

He said he and his colleague who shot the video entered the courtroom just like any other member of the public. The public must go through metal detectors before entering the courtroom and are supposed to store all electronic devices in cubbies outside the chamber. 

Newkirk said he realized the unprecedented video footage has, in some ways, dwarfed the group’s original message decrying overly loose campaign finance laws. He said the court’s campaign finance decisions are the bigger issue. 

“A part of it is that it is awesome and historic to get video for the first time of a protest in the Supreme Court, which is extremely rare in and of itself,” he said. “But we feel like what is really important and historic, and what needs to be focused on, is these outrageous decision that the Supreme Court has made [and could make]."

He added: “If pulling off something with a hidden camera can help elevate that broader story, or me going to jail, that would be great.”

Newkirk is seen in the video standing up and calling on the court to overturn the 2010 Citizens United ruling that opened the door to corporate political donations and led to the creation of super-PACs.  

The beginning of the video appears to show the oral arguments from a separate hearing in 2013 dealing with an undecided campaign finance case known as McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission, which asks whether the cap on the total amount of money a person can donate to candidates and party committees during an election cycle is constitutional.

“I rise on behalf of the vast majority of American people who believe that money is not speech, corporations are not people, and our democracy should not be for sale to the highest bidder,” Newkirk shouts before being removed. “Overturn Citizens United. Keep the cap on McCutcheon.” 

Newkirk and his colleague went into the court Wednesday believing the decision in the McCutcheon case could be decided then. It untimely was not. 

While not focused on the issue of cameras in the court, he said he does not see any reason why they are still restricted today. 

“If having them on video and making all their deliberations and sessions viewable by video would in any way make them take more seriously how the public sees and feels about what they are doing would be great,” he said. “But what we need to focus on we believe is the impact of these decision for our democracy.”

Newkirk said his purpose was not to violate the law but to bring attention to his cause.   

“We all were aware there was a risk of being detained or something like that; we didn’t know the specifics at every level of what the law was,” he said. “And our purpose wasn’t to violate the law or any law … but it was to make sure that, even if we had to take that risk, that this was heard in the Supreme Court and potentially and hopefully by people around our country.”

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