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Libertarians File Antitrust Suit Against Democrats, Republicans & Commission on Presidential Debates

Breaking news: The Gary Johnson/Judge Jim Gray Campaign has filed an antitrust lawsuit against the Democrats, Republicans, & the Commission on Presidential Debates for antitrust and anticompetitive acts. The voters deserve competition!

Press Release below:

*Thanks to JackTanner for this Link to an actual copy of the lawsuit.

Press Release:


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.”

Contact:Natalie Dicou

Joe Hunter

*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"

October 3, 1988



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."

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UPDATE: Johnson's ex parte


Johnson's ex parte application has been denied. I already figured that. That does not mean they will lose the case, but there is no emergency to stop them from having the debates.

If you disagree with me on anything you are not a real libertarian...

Seems to me the Commision

on Presidential Debates is a chartered non-profit organization. As such, they serve the public and are subject to guidelines set forth within their public charter. Is the anti-trust aspect a violation of their charter? I would also have to wonder if broadcasters of the debate are in violation of their charters and licensing agreements.


Has anyone heard anything about the Johnson/Gray Lawsuit?

It is like it never happened.

November 6th 2012 I voted for Dr.Ron Paul
"We must remember, elections are short-term efforts. Revolutions are long-term projects." ~ Ron Paul

Ron Paul specifically talking about the Womens League of Voters

statement about the fraud being perpetuated that is in Gary Johnson's lawsuit filing.

Timestamped for your convenience.

Ron Paul Hosts Third Party Press Conference 2008!#t=7m35s

November 6th 2012 I voted for Dr.Ron Paul
"We must remember, elections are short-term efforts. Revolutions are long-term projects." ~ Ron Paul

Ron Paul is for the abolition

Ron Paul is for the abolition of antitrust laws...

Aye, but he's also against the abuse of 'executive orders'...

and one of his proposed methods of 'fixing' what people have done with them is to issue an executive order undoing all prior executive orders.

Use the system as it is to get what you want, then mash the reset button and burn the bridge behind you so that no one can easily undo your reboot.

Not a prayer

The suit doesn't have a chance in court. The courts will rule that this is a freedom of association issue. If two people want to debate you can't force them to include a 3rd person. However if Obama and/or Romney want to debate Johnson they are feel to do so. The suites only value is as a PR tool.

Yes in court, no in LP platform

The courts have upheld the Sherman Act for over a century under the Constitution's granting Congress purview over regulating commerce, just as courts have upheld the Civil Rights Act under the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause. In both cases, a stronger reading of the First Amendment would overturn them, but that is not the way courts have ruled.

Which brings us to the irony of how Johnson's citing the Sherman Act seems to violate the Libertarian Party platform:

We advocate the repeal of all laws banning or restricting the advertising of prices, products, or services. We oppose all violations of the right to private property, liberty of contract, and freedom of trade. The right to trade includes the right not to trade — for any reasons whatsoever.

Not a peep

I have not seen a blurb or heard a peep from the Dinosaur media on this.

“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.” -- John Quincy Adams

They are praying that this just goes away.

I don't think so.

Actually the complaint is not

I support the sentiment, but actually the complaint is not that good. There are not enough facts, but plenty of speculation, hearsay and overly broad conclusions. I'll be surprised if it gets any ground.

First there needs to be a cause of action and then damages.

First thing that is left out, and most importantly. Did Johnson try to get included in the debates? If so, how?

A proper complaint should state who, what, when, where and how. It's missing most of those elements.

If you disagree with me on anything you are not a real libertarian...


Who - Dems and GOP
What - blocking from a national debate
When - the 3 debate dates
Where - in the US on TV
How - By using monopoly control to block out any candidate other than Romney and Obama.
Letter to Debate Committee-

all attachments to a complaint are considered part of the complaint.

That was funny. I am not

That was funny. I am not sure you understand how a complaint works. Show me where in the complaint there are specific facts that warrants damages.

Are the debates publicly run? No. Then how do you reconcile you trying to impose you or anyone else in them? So the first question is, does Plaintiff even have standing to sue. I am not sure. They haven't set forth that part in the complaint. Could the democrats sue the libertarian party for not having them at a libertarian debate? Parties are privately run. They are not part of the Government.

This has nothing to do with whether or not I want Johnson in the debates. I do want that, but this is a legal issue.

If you disagree with me on anything you are not a real libertarian...

anti-trust burden?

I believe Johnson and the Libertarian Party commissioned polls using the same criteria as the polls conducted for, and commissioned by Obama and Romney, and submitted them to the PDC. They have contacted the PDC numerous times. I'd say they have definitely tried to get included in the debates.

Doesn't a anti-trust only require the complainant to provide a preponderance that there is a substantial probability of monopoly? I don't think the criteria is rigid. Maybe their hoping Judge Jim Gray arguing their case, can have some persuasion with the presiding Judge?


Fancy Shmancy Fine Print:

Doesn't a anti-trust only

"Doesn't a anti-trust only require the complainant to provide a preponderance that there is a substantial probability of monopoly?"

I would have to look at the elements proving the case. In any event, they left out that they even tried to get included. It's like suing Burger King for discrimination but not stating you were even there..

Perhaps they can get away with it in Federal court because they are a claim based court, not a statement of facts based. I still think they are going to have a hard time without more facts. perhaps they will do it in the motion for injunctive relief.

If you disagree with me on anything you are not a real libertarian...

They only have to show future

They only have to show future harm to have standing and therefore have a claim. Most likely an injunction unless they are added or rules are changed.

"They only have to show

"They only have to show future harm to have standing and therefore have a claim." Where are you getting that from? You are talking anticipatory breach or harm. Does that apply to privately run debates that are shown on TV by privately run TV stations? I doubt it.

If you disagree with me on anything you are not a real libertarian...

how about the romney campaign

how about the romney campaign working to remove johnson from the ballot in several states, forcing the libertarian party to spend unnecessary money in court costs?

That's different lawsuit..

That's different lawsuit..

If you disagree with me on anything you are not a real libertarian...

Not so sure

I'm not so sure there is even a lawsuit there. For reasons that tantalo91 stated in the comment below.


Fancy Shmancy Fine Print:

Everyone who can think for

Everyone who can think for themselves rationally understands that Romney intentions to drag the Libertarian party through appeals court of the signatures is pathetic and an effort to eliminate competition. However the fact of the matter is, its the right of the Republicans to be able to question the validity of any competitor. The libertarians have the right to do the same thing with reasonable suspicion. Everyone has that right. Its obvious what the intention is, but its not illegal in any way to do so...the simple response the public can give the Republicans to this action is to vote any other party but Republican.

True but...

How much of the population even know about him? Aside from people who are like minded as us and have seen the bs that was pulled on Ron Paul and Johnson. Not much media coverage if any and just knowing of him through the internet. Without setting into the debates it seems like just a few people. Oh I'm sure we've been telling everyone we know but we know how hard headed some people can be and just thought it was only themselves and whoever told them voting for the man. Psychological exclusion too without any showing through the media.

Put on your thinking caps people, time to spread the word of liberty like you never have before lol.

Homeland security statement: patriotism is now considered terrorism.
I love shared it with everyone I know. If anything they realize its not just a red and blue idiot running for reelection.


Maybe a few more people will wake up and realize how rigged the election process is.


Such an important story!

The Libertarian Party has been busy! No doubt, somebody has been working on this quietly for quite some time. Major props to the campaign for keeping this Ace-in-the-sleeve away from the public. What a bomb to drop on the duopoly!! Even if Gary Johnson spikes only 10 points after one debate, more and more will see him as the alternative to Romney for defeating Obama.

They can convince you not to vote or not to vote for Gary Johnson but they can not use force to keep you from voting for Gary Johnson, It does not matter whether or not he wins or loses what counts is your voice loudly saying you want to be free, Only you can prevent yoi from saying that

Keith Halderman

The Libertarians are really starting to FIGHT the Two Wings of..

The One Party Bird...starting to have the BALLS, just like Ron Paul.

This should be the tactic, FIGHTING LIBERTY AT ALL FRONTS (Rand Paul from the INSIDE, Libertarian/Constitution/Third Party from the OUTSIDE)!!!

Down with The One Party/Two Wing SCAM!!!

now, if only Ron would

now, if only Ron would endorse Johnson, there would be such a big push for this to happen.

I dream of the day when all

I dream of the day when all parties running a candidate, no matter how bad they are, get to participate in the debates.

Great plan

I totally agree that a duopoly of political parties should be illegal and all, but still, the irony of a libertarian filing an anti-trust lawsuit is not lost on me ;)

Anyway, I think this is a great plan, hopefully he wins and crushed Obamney in the debates. If GJ gets in the debates, it's a whole new ballgame. If this lawsuit is decided in his favor quickly, we could be campaigning for a good man to be president this year! It ain't over, people!

Updated Wikipedia again

Now that I've had a chance to more carefully read the Johnson court filing, I've updated Wikipedia again -- more juicy details.

It was just a couple of months ago that I had updated the Wikipedia CPD page on the outcome of the 2000 Nader lawsuit. That Nader had filed a lawsuit was on Wikipedia, but not the outcome! In 2005, D.C. Circuit Court ruled that the CPD was right in 2004 to bar third party candidates from attending because they rightly feared (in the view of CPD, FEC, and the court) that the third party candidates would disrupt the live debate for being upset over having been barred. Yes, you read that right. Circular logic. The court gave carte blanche to the FEC, claiming Congress vested it with "wide latitude".

The Johnson complaint cleverly takes a whole new approach. It cites the Sherman Act and claims "restraint of trade", saying CPD, RNC, and DNC are illegally colluding (actually, the complaint uses the word "conspiring") to prevent competitors from obtaining the $400,000/year pre sidential salary. Despite recounting the history of the CPD formation, the Johnson complaint notably makes no mention of the 2000 Nader/Hagelin suit or the FEC.