By Kevin Lessmiller, Courthouse News Service
(CN) — A federal judge on Friday shot down the Libertarian and Green parties’ claim that they have a legal right to participate in this year’s presidential debates.
The Libertarian National Committee and the Green Party — and their respective presidential nominees, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein — sued the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee, as well as the Commission on Presidential Debates, or CPD, a nonprofit corporation founded by the RNC and DNC.
The minor parties tried to get invited to the privately-sponsored presidential debates in 2012, but were unsuccessful. Johnson sued over his exclusion in October 2012.
This time around, the Libertarian and Green Parties claimed that the rules barring their participation in the debates violate antitrust law.
U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer disagreed in a 27-page ruling filed Friday morning dismissing the case.
“Because plaintiffs have no standing and because antitrust laws govern commercial markets and not political activity, those claims fail as a matter of well-established law,” Collyer wrote. “Plaintiffs also allege violations of the First Amendment, but those claims must be dismissed because the First Amendment guarantees freedom from government infringement and defendants here are private parties.”
The judge said the minor parties’ “alleged injuries are wholly speculative and are dependent entirely on media coverage decisions.”
“The alleged injuries——failure to receive media coverage and to garner votes, federal matching funds, and campaign contributions—were caused by the lack of popular support of the candidates and their parties sufficient to attract media attention,” Collyer said.
Green Party spokesman Scott McLarty said the party is disappointed with Friday’s ruling.
“Any candidate who has ballot lines in enough states to win, if enough voters voted for …