The Supreme Court Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 6, 2013.
GABRIELLA DEMCZUK/The New York Times/Redux

Unauthorized video shows Supreme Court


An unauthorized video that apparently shows Supreme Court proceedings was uploaded to YouTube this week, by a group protesting big money in politics.

The video begins with what appears to be footage from October, during a case on campaign finance. Another part of the video appears to show a man disturbing court proceedings on Wednesday. The man, Noah “Kai” Newkirk, 33, of Los Angeles, denounced the court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling. The activist group 99Rise released the video online Wednesday.

Recording devices, including cameras, are not permitted in the Supreme Court. Cell phones and even newspapers are not allowed. 

Newkirk is part of a group called 99Rise, which advocates against big money in politics. 

“I think it’s awesome that we pulled it off, and we think that Supreme Court sessions should be viewable to the public. It’s the 21st century,” Newkirk added. 

The Supreme Court is aware of the video, and a spokeswoman said court officials ”are in the process of reviewing the video and our courtroom screening procedures.”

Disruptions in the Supreme Court are rare. The last outburst occurred in 2006 during arguments in an abortion case. Outbursts are also illegal. Newkirk spent Wednesday night in jail. He faces misdemeanor charges of disturbing the court. A charging document alleges that Newkirk “made a harangue or oration, and uttered loud, threatening, or abusive language in the Supreme Court Building or grounds.” He has pleaded not guilty.

“The Supreme Court has played a huge roll in deepening the corruption in our country,” said Newkirk, who pointed to a 2010 Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case which opened the door to unlimited corporate contributions to political action committees and other groups. “What we wanted to do was expose the fact that they’re doing this and not being accountable. We wanted them to hear the voice of the majority of people in this country who don’t feel … [that] corporations are people.”

Newkirk, who worked for Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar, said 99Rise is part of the Occupy Wall Street “diaspora” and that many of its members had participated in Occupy Los Angeles. He recently left his job working for Huizar to focus full-time on 99Rise, which was founded in the summer of 2012.

The group members see themselves as modern-day freedom riders, calling attention to a cause, not trying to create change through legislation, he added.

“We are humbly following in that tradition and trying to do the same with the issue of corruption in our democracy,” he said. 

NBC News contributed to this report.

Supreme Court

Unauthorized video shows Supreme Court