Libertarian and Green Parties Sue FEC for Anti-Trust Violations in Presidential Debates

For Immediate Release Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Attorney Bruce Fein being interviewed in front of U.S. District Courthouse on 9/29/15 (photo)

Attorney Bruce Fein is interviewed after filing lawsuit at U.S. District Courthouse.

Washington, D.C. — The Libertarian and Green parties, along with their respective 2012 presidential candidates, Gov. Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C. today, charging that the exclusion of qualified candidates from the general election presidential debates by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) violates federal anti-trust laws.

The legal challenge maintains that the Commission on Presidential Debates, a private 501(c)3 organization created in 1987 by the Republican and Democratic national parties, intentionally limits participation in the nationally-televised debates to the Democrat and Republican nominees — placing other national parties’ nominees at an unfair disadvantage. Other candidates are excluded by the Commission’s imposing of arbitrary polling criteria and its colluding with the two old parties to refuse participation in any nationally-televised debates or in Democratic and Republican nominees’ joint appearances not sponsored by the CPD.

The lawsuit’s proposed remedy is fair and objective: include all candidates in presidential debates who are legally qualified to serve (American born and 35 years of age or older) and whose names appear on enough states’ ballots to potentially secure a majority in the Electoral College. In 2012, that threshold would have allowed participation, in addition to President Obama and Mitt Romney, by Johnson and Stein, as well as their two parties’ vice-presidential nominees.

‘For over 25 years, the Commission on Presidential Debates has used millions of dollars in tax-deductible contributions from big corporations to rig the rules, keeping Americans from hearing from anyone but the two old parties in debates,’ said Nicholas Sarwark, Chair of the National Libertarian Committee. ‘If two teams got together to make sure that only they could make it to the Super Bowl, people would be outraged at the cheating. With this lawsuit, we’re standing up for the right of Americans to have fair debates between all candidates who are on enough ballots to become President.’

The lawsuit is funded by Our America Initiative, a not-for-profit advocacy organization, through their Fair Debates project ( ). It was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by Our America Initiative’s attorney Bruce Fein, who served as Associate Deputy Attorney General and General Counsel to the Federal Communications Commission under the Reagan Administration.