Libertarian Gary Johnson Tries Again to Sue His Way Into Presidential Debates

Yesterday the Gary Johnson campaign filed its latest attempt to sue his way into the presidential debates. He has a novel strategy this time, not the (very unlibertarian) antitrust tactic he tried before.

His campaign is claiming that, by the standards that President Obama and Mitt Romney are judged against (their polling numbers against only one other contender) that he fully satisfies the official qualification requirement of polling over 15 percent support. He doesn't do so when matched against both of his major party opponents, but does, his suit claims, do so against Obama alone. 

The suit asserts that in five different recently conducted polls in which Johnson is up against Obama alone, he exceeds 15 percent support. Johnson got as high as 45.8 percent in a late September Toluna poll (and as low as 25.9 percent in an early October Research Now poll, but still above 15.)

As the suit against the Commission on Presidential Debates argues, "Governor Romney was included in the debates based on polls that were head-to-head between President Obama and Governor Romney. Polls comparing Governor Johnson head-to-head with President Obama similarly meet the criteria."

The suit is seeking injunctive and compensatory relief and a jury trial. It claims, if I'm understanding the legalese correctly, that the Commission on Presidential Debates announcement of its criteria for candidate inclusion constitutes an implied contract that Johnson relied on in his huge campaign expenses in order to meet those criteria. Thus, the Commission's failure to include him is a breach of contract both specific and implied, as well as unlawful discrimination against Johnson because of his party affiliation.

The suit is demanding "specific performance" (that is, that the Commission actually allow Johnson in the last debate) and if that fails, the damages he seeks for being robbed of the exposure of the debates will, the suit says, be "likely approaching millions of dollars" since he is losing "several hours of prime time television coverage on all major American stations...tens of thousands of social media mentions, thousands of print articles and hundreds of radio station mentions."

The Daily Caller on this suit. I wrote a couple of weeks back about how and why Johnson ought to win the presidential election.

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  • sarcasmic||

    Clever. Won't work, but clever nonetheless.

  • WTF||

    Yeah, I'm sure the ruling against Johnson will be along the lines of "Fuck you, that's why".

  • Pro Libertate||

    I really would love to see a debate with a libertarian in the room. Unlike the primaries, general election debates get lots of attention. Johnson wouldn't even have to do that much, just highlight the similarities in the statist quo desired by his opponents.

  • Loki||

    As the suit against the Commission on Presidential Debates argues, "Governor Romney was included in the debates based on polls that were head-to-head between President Obama and Governor Romney. Polls comparing Governor Johnson head-to-head with President Obama similarly meet the criteria."

    ...Uhmmm, th-th-that's... different. Somehow.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's actually a very valid argument. It won't work, because the major parties are viewed as somehow legally entitled to preferential treatment, but it's not a bad approach.

  • Brandybuck||

    Obama and Romney aren't getting preferential treatment, because they are STILL being polled against each other AND Johnson! Even in polls where Johnson is not specifically named, there are still the options of "other" and "none", and Obama/Romney are still getting above 15%.

    As much as I like Johnson, this lawsuit is still a publicity stunt in the same way Jill Stein getting arrested was a publicity stunt.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I've taken a poll. No Johnson. Just "Don't know/other." Let's do a poll like this:

    1. Romney
    2. Johnson
    3. Don't know/other

  • Cavpitalist||

    It's hard to think you'll be out-stupided today, but T O N Y's surely fluttering around here somewhere.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    That's different because.... what? Those two are polling really highly, so it's okay to just poll with the two of them? Because that would just be circling back around to the fact that they're polling highly when they're the only two on the poll.

  • Jordan||

    I have no problem with him suing these asshole on anti-trust grounds. Both parties support anti-trust laws and insane ballot-access restrictions. Fuck 'em with their own bullshit tactics. I would gladly call the police if I saw an ardent drug warrior smoking pot.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Yeah, while I understand the objections from a purist standpoint, politics isn't business, and the Republicrats have a true monopoly on it. Fuck them and their law.

  • Pro Libertate||

    The business of America is giving people the business.

  • nicole||

    +1

  • Zeb||

    If the law is used to enforce a monopoly (like the two party one), then it seems reasonable to use the law to try to break it.

  • The Hammer||

    I would gladly call the police if I saw an ardent drug warrior smoking pot.

    I wouldn't, but then I have dogs.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    Dead horse, bullied, beaten, bbqed.

  • Juice||

    That's how they get you in the Catch-22. They say you can't get into the debates without polling above 15%. Well, that's impossible when your name appears on none of the polls.

  • Tonio||

    The suit is seeking injunctive and compensatory relief and a jury trial.

    Yeah, like that's going to happen in time to get him into the last debate.

    Sounds like he's trying to set himself up for a 2016 run, but IIRC he said he was done after this election. Maybe paving the way for future libertarian candidates?

  • Mensan||

    I'm pretty sure Johnson has said he'll run again in 2016.

  • Thane of Whiterun||

    Injunctive relief can be issued before a jury rules -- in fact before the trial even begins.

    i.e., a preliminary injunction

    Though I agree he probably won't get it in time, even then.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    No one wants a litigious president.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Like the two candidates in 2000?

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