Press Release below:
*Thanks to JackTanner for this Link to an actual copy of the lawsuit.
JOHNSON CAMPAIGN FILES ANTI-TRUST ACTION AGAINST NATIONAL COMMISSION ON PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES
Sept. 21, 2012, Saint Paul, Minn. — Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson’s campaign today filed an anti-trust lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Central District of California challenging Johnson’s exclusion from upcoming debates sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates. The Commission announced earlier Friday that invitations to the debates were being extended only to Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.
Announcing the campaign’s legal action, senior Johnson advisor Ron Nielson said, “There is nothing remotely surprising in the fact that a private organization created by and run by the Republican and Democratic Parties has only invited the Republican and Democratic candidates to their debates. It is a bit more disturbing that the national news media has chosen to play the two-party game, when a full one-third of the American people do not necessarily identify with either of those two parties.
“American voters deserve a real debate between now and Election Day. By excluding Gov. Johnson, the Commission on Presidential Debates has guaranteed that there will be no one on the stage challenging continued wars, calling for a balanced budget now — as opposed to decades down the road, and who has never advocated government-run health care.
“Someone has to stand up and call this what it is: A rigged system designed entirely to protect and perpetuate the two-party duopoly. That someone will be the Johnson campaign. We are today filing a lawsuit in Federal Court charging that the National Commission and the Republican and Democratic Parties, by colluding to exclude duly qualified candidates outside the Republican and Democratic Parties, are in violation of the nation’s anti-trust laws.
“It is unfortunate that a successful two-term governor who is already assured of being on the ballot in 47 states and the District of Columbia is forced to turn to the courts to break up a rigged system, but it appears that fairness is not to be found otherwise.”
Johnson’s running mate and retired California Superior Court Judge Jim Gray, who is also a plaintiff, will argue the motion on the campaign’s behalf.
The lawsuit, filed only hours after the Commission’s announcement, charges that the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee and an organization they set up, the Commission on Presidential Debates, have conspired together to restrain trade, both in ideas and in commerce. The lawsuit maintains that the Republican and Democratic Parties, through the CPD, indefensibly limits access of other candidates to the marketplace of ideas and the opportunity to be employed in these highest offices in the land, and in so doing are violating the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890.
The lawsuit seeks an order of the Court enjoining the debates from proceeding unless all candidates who will appear on the ballot in enough states to win in the Electoral College are allowed to participate.
Nielson said the Johnson campaign would likely file additional lawsuits in additional jurisdictions challenging the exclusion of Johnson and Gray from the debates on other grounds.
Prior to 1988, the League of Women Voters sponsored nationally-televised presidential debates. The League withdrew its debate sponsorship after the Republican and Democratic campaigns negotiated an agreement to determine which candidates could participate, who would be panelists, and other details of the debates. The League withdrew its support for the debates because “the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetuate a fraud on the American voter.”
*Thanks to Pollman for this Link to an actual copy of the 1988 League of Woman Voters Press Release. As Pollman said this is an integral key in the lawsuit and a great reference for anybody interested in this struggle.
League Refuses to "Help Perpetrate a Fraud"
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 3, 1988
LEAGUE REFUSES TO "HELP PERPETRATE A FRAUD"
WITHDRAWS SUPPORT FROM FINAL PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE
WASHINGTON, DC —"The League of Women Voters is withdrawing its sponsorship of the presidential debate scheduled for mid-October because the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter," League President Nancy M. Neuman said today.
"It has become clear to us that the candidates' organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and honest answers to tough questions," Neuman said. "The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public."
Neuman said that the campaigns presented the League with their debate agreement on
September 28, two weeks before the scheduled debate. The campaigns' agreement was negotiated "behind closed doors" and vas presented to the League as "a done deal," she said, its 16 pages of conditions not subject to negotiation.
Most objectionable to the League, Neuman said, were conditions in the agreement that gave the campaigns unprecedented control over the proceedings. Neuman called "outrageous" the campaigns' demands that they control the selection of questioners, the composition of the audience, hall access for the press and other issues.
"The campaigns' agreement is a closed-door masterpiece," Neuman said. "Never in the history of the League of Women Voters have two candidates' organizations come to us with such stringent, unyielding and self-serving demands."
Neuman said she and the League regretted that the American people have had no real opportunities to judge the presidential nominees outside of campaign-controlled environments.
"On the threshold of a new millenium, this country remains the brightest hope for all who cherish free speech and open debate," Neuman said. "Americans deserve to see and hear the men who would be president face each other in a debate on the hard and complex issues critical to our progress into the next century."
Neuman issued a final challenge to both Vice President Bush and Governor Dukakis to "rise above your handlers and agree to join us in presenting the fair and full discussion the American public expects of a League of Women Voters debate."