Judge tosses suit seeking third-party involvement in debates

On Friday, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by third-party candidates who sought entry to presidential debates scheduled to begin in September.

The lawsuit, filed in September 2015 by Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein, accuses both the Republican and Democratic parties and the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) of violations of anti-trust laws and transgressing against the First Amendment.

At stake is qualification for appearing with GOP candidate Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the first of three debates, the first of which is set for late September at Hofstra University. 

In her decision, Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia Rosemary M. Collyer ruled against both the Johnson and Stein campaigns and stated:

“(The claims) fail as a matter of well-established law. And the First Amendment argument did not apply because the commission is a private nonprofit, not a government entity.”

Gary Johnson’s campaign manager Ron Nielson, blasted the court’s decision:

“We are exploring our options with the firm resolve that this case and the larger issue of fair debates are too important to simply allow such an arbitrary dismissal.”

Created in 1987, the Commission on Presidential Debates has organized every presidential debats since 1988.  Under the rules created by the commission, candidates qualify only if averaging 15 percent or more among five polls in the period prior to two weeks before the debates.

The Johnson and Stein campaigns contend the stipulations effectively shut them out of debates.

Mr. Johnson is currently polling at approximately 10 percent nationwide; Dr. Stein support rests at 5 percent.


[CNN Money] [debates.org] [ecf.dcd.uscourts.gov] [Photo courtesy Politico]