Occupy the Courts

Winston Churchill once famously rejected a desert saying, as he pushed it away, “This pudding has no theme.”

Of the many criticisms that can be justifiably leveled at my weekly post on this blog, lack of theme, I hope, is not one.

The theme of my posts is the need to preserve our adversarial system of civil justice; to prevent it from morphing into one that basically offers only interest-based dispute resolution because the energy and the skills needed to determine rights, have fallen into disuse.

I carry that theme around all during the working week, and after hours too.

So when I read about the “Occupy The Courts” demonstrations in the US last Friday, it was, I thought, a shining illustration of the importance of an independent, strong judiciary. It fits my theme like a glove.

According to the “Occupy The Courts”  website, the legislative and executive branches in the US have sold out to corporate interests but there remains a chance with the judiciary:

“The courts are the one place where there still exists some chance of a fair result for the 99%, against the power and influence of the 1%. Occupy The Courts is a people-powered movement to bring court cases against corporate power and government abuse, and is an extension of the Occupy Wall Street movement that began on September 17, 2011 in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District.”

The timing of the “Occupy The Courts” demonstrations last Friday was arranged to mark the second anniversary of the United States Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs Federal Electoral Commission. A decision that, according to the protesters, changed the rules for election financing and, gave personhood to corporations, allowing unlimited corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in election campaigns.

My point is not of course who is right, but that there are rights. And when asserted, a healthy society must have robust machinery that is capable of determining rights swiftly, impartially, and according to law.

While the issues concerning “Occupy The Courts” are big, public, constitutional questions, this is no less true of private civil disputes.


  1. In Toronto we recently had our own “Occupy the Courts” incident, which was actually more accidental overflow from protests to municipal budget cuts.

    During the General Assembly on January 21, 2012 actually expressed concerns over the integrity of the judicial system, which they felt was an institution that “served the public,”

    There were concerns… that occupying court land might disrupt court proceeding and disenfranchise the very people they mean to help.