Libertarian Party

Libertarian and Green Parties Sue Commission on Presidential Debates on Antitrust Grounds

Gary Johnson tried this trick twice in 2012, and failed.


David Weigel at Washington Post reports:

The Libertarian Party and Green Party and their 2012 candidates for president are readying a legal complaint against the Commission on Presidential Debates…[it] argues that a "cognizable political campaign market" is being corrupted by the commission's rules. The commission, a private entity set up after the League of Women Voters' 1992 debates allowed third party candidate Ross Perot to participate, has withstood yearly assaults from the likes of Ralph Nader, Pat Buchanan, and former Congressman Bob Barr. None of them have gotten past a 1999 commission rule: No candidate gets onstage unless he or she is polling at 15 percent or better.

Bruce Fein, the attorney for the new plaintiffs, argues over 43 pages that keeping them out of a "multi-billion dollar" market violates "antitrust laws, the First Amendment, and District of Columbia tort law."

"The unlawful agreement among Defendants has several illicit purposes," writes Fein. "The first is to acquire, maintain, and exercise duopoly control of the multi-million dollar market in organizing, promoting, sponsoring, and fundraising for holding national general election presidential and vice-presidential debates to artificially advantage the Democratic and Republican Party candidates… the second illicit purpose is to acquire, maintain, and exercise duopoly control over, and to exclude and severely undermine competition in, the multi-billion dollar market of organizing, promoting, fundraising for, and engaging in general presidential and vice-presidential election campaigns."

In an interview, Fein called the new complaint "pioneering,"…..

Fein's group is….asking a court to rule that "the fifteen percent criterion used by Defendants continues to violate the First Amendment" and for "an order compelling the dissolution of the Commission and an injunction against any further boycott or other agreement in restraint of trade between the RNC and the DNC or any of their candidates or their agents."

This isn't as new or fresh a thing as Fein seems to think. L.P. presidential pick Gary Johnson tried this suing to get in the debates trick in 2012, on both antitrust and then essentially breach of contract grounds, and it didn't work. Not yet having read Fein's current filing, which was according to the Post slipped to them early, not sure what if anything is fresh in his arguments this time.

Would getting in the debates change the game if the suing tactic works this time? Almost certainly, for name awareness if nothing else. The cause and effect of these things needs more teasing out, but of course Ross Perot in presidential debates did amazingly well for non-major party candidates in 1992, then was excluded from the debates in '96 and did far less well, with his vote percentage dropping by 10 points, more than 50 percent. And for the Libertarian Party last year, their North Carolina Senate candidate Sean Haugh got into a televised debate and did outperfom nearly all other L.P. Senate candidates.

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  1. Libertarians… suing on anti-trust grounds.

    I need a ruling on this.

    1. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em I guess…

      1. That and since the statists were the ones who passed anti-trust laws, why not use their own creation against them?

        1. This is just saying “it’s okay when we aren’t for liberty.” It’s just team bullshit. If a Libertarian it anyone else can’t get someone to televise their candidate then that’s their problem. Using government force to get their cake undermines the philosophy more than losing.

          1. Libertarians and members of other small parties are forced to underwrite the primary and general elections, but have to jump through hoops and often go to court just to get on the ballot in each state. Use any weapon available to stop this bullshit. Fuck the Republicrat duopoly.

    2. Would you prefer it in inches? Or millimeters?

        1. Parsecs are a measure of time.


      1. Furlongs, bitch.

    3. I don’t get the libertarian objection to anti-trust legislation. Yeah it makes no sense for the government to be the one who is responsible for administering/regulating it. But as a legal basis that allows civil adjudication of harm among private parties? It is the same thing as legislation allowing pollution lawsuits – or statutes on fraud. Not all harm is caused solely by pointing a gun at someone. And there is absolutely ZERO ‘free market’ rationale for anything related to collusion.

      I obviously do get the anarchist objection. I don’t give a rats fuck what they say though.

      1. And there is absolutely ZERO ‘free market’ rationale for anything related to collusion.

        Please explain, so long as nobody is being coerced what’s the issue?

        1. Party A and Party B freely contract to kill party C. You’re saying there is nothing C can do until after the bullet enters his head? The only reason government legislates that to be a crime is so that at least government can pursue those two parties after the third party is dead

          1. But that’s conspiracy, not collusion. If Party A contracts with Party B not to sell below a certain price some product both parties produce, why does Party C get a say in how they dispose of their property?

            1. If Party A contracts with Party B not to sell below a certain price some product they both produce and they require Party C to pay for both Party A’s and Party B’s costs to produce the product along with the all of the rent that would necessarily inhere, damn straight Party C has a say on how HIS property is disposed.

              1. I don’t even know what that means, LM. Party C has no property interest here.

                1. If Party C is forced to pay for the costs to produce Party A and Party B’s product, how can it be said that Party C does not have a property interest?

                  Besides, can you not see that my post more closely aligns with the subject?

                  1. Of course, voting is for suckers.

                    Nevertheless, the courts have no business assisting the two parties of state in denying debate access to other candidates as their is no right of government created “private” entities to limit participation in the advance auction of stolen property.

                  2. Party C isn’t being “forced”, that’s the thing. Party C has no property rights to something he hasn’t bought yet.

                    1. In what world do you live?

                    2. Are you worried that the “rights” of the RNC and the DNC and the commission would be impaired if they were prevented from limiting the debate to their candidates?

                      OMG, it would be so horrible if the statists were denied the right to limit access to the stage!

                    3. So… private national committees who plan and host private functions with political implications should have their private operations preempted by government in service to the interests of unrelated and unaffiliated third parties, and *that* is the pro-liberty stance?

                    4. These are not private functions.

                      And I repeat what is the ‘free market’ rationale for supporting collusion that is intended to harm others? Here’s Adam Smith –

                      ‘People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary.’

                      It is transparent that the CPD stomps all over this. And I’d argue that anti-trust legislation (maybe revised a bit I don’t know all the specifics) is precisely the means by which a harmed party CAN do something to keep contract law from ‘facilitating such assemblies’ or ‘rendering them necessary’. Absent that; they can’t do shit. And THAT definitely ‘facilitates such assemblies’.

                    5. To that same end – I would have no problem using that paragraph as a rationale for banning trade associations (including unions – or at least same-industry unions) from lobbying public officials (which clearly facilitates such assemblies) or even getting special tax treatment.

                      Golly gee. Imagine libertarians actually using Adam Smith to undermine cronyism/corporatism. Of course I understand that can never happen

                2. If the intent of an agreement between party A and party B is to harm party C; then party C certainly has an interest

          2. contract to kill party C

            What part of “so long as nobody is being coerced” did you not understand? Are you fucking retarded?

      2. If you can show harm, then you have a tort. If you have to resort to anti-trust claims, then there was no harm.

        1. This is how I see it. And being harmed because you are unable to compete? Non-starter.

        2. Obviously they can show harm and that is not the basis for a tort under anti-trust. The harm has to be intentional (which it is) via behaviors that are specifically prohibited under the Sherman Act. Unintentional or incidental harm (for example a producer who loses business because their product sucks compared to even a monopolist) is not covered

          1. You’re just being circular. The harm is in violations of the Act and violations of the Act are harmful. That’s not helpful.

            1. No. The harm is that they are not allowed to sell their product (candidate for public office) to the public. The violations of the Act are that there is a conspiracy to both prevent them from appearing at the sole existing market (the debates) and to prevent the two major candidates from appearing at any other possible market/debate or on/near any media outlet that does decide to host a different debate. This is a contract that is legally enforceable – by the third branch of government in court.

              Obviously I doubt they win – but at least it will be good information to know that all three branches of government are the enemy of competition in elections.

      3. “I obviously do get the anarchist objection. I don’t give a rats fuck what they say though”

        So change your handle to J slave then. Your wants of the violent coercive and chaotic state impede people’s freedom.

        “I don’t care that people want to be free, I want to force the state on them and know what’s best for them” sounds like the “top men” you so despise.

        1. Well apart from my attitude about anarchos – what part of political parties and elections jives with your version of anarcho? I thought you all were far too superior for that sort of thing

          1. The only vote someone should have is with their media of exchange, and their voices and choices in the market.

            This way if someone would still wish to hire Clinton to secure their servers, Bernie Sanders to try and rob folks on their behalf (he wouldn’t get very far), or Obama to perform open heart surgery, or Romney to replace their knee, everyone else isn’t effected by their decisions, nor will be robbed or enslaved to the state.

            “I thought you all were far too superior for that sort of thing”

            Do tell why you believe that folks in fancy suits and pantsuits should enslave everyone and that socialism is magically efficient and effective when it comes to these certain areas.

    4. Is it any different than collecting SS checks even if object to SS existing? Or is it more like suing under a public accommodation law? I think its more towards the former.

    5. A) You play by the rules that exist, not by the rules you wish exists.
      B) I am not sure I anti-trust laws makes my list of the worst laws, but enforcement has been arbitrary.

  2. Yes, I voted for Gary. Yes, I’ve never been one to quit just because a cause is completely hopeless.

    1. Yeah, I did as well. Will most likely do so this time around too if he is the Libertarian candidate. Team Red not buying Paul’s whole icky peace and freedom thing.

  3. Maybe they should try their hand at primary debates first. These parties seem to have coronations not elections.

    1. “These parties” referring to third parties? I don’t know about the others, but I thought the LP has had some contentious nominations. Or maybe I’m just thinking of 2008 and Bob Barr. But libertarians are known for their infighting.

        1. I’m the only true Libertarian

  4. I know Garry has said he’s done with the Republican Party but I think it’s a big mistake for him not to be running for their nomination as a two term Republican Governor and unrepentant libertarian/capitalist.

    1. Except that none of that will get him the nomination, much less win him the general election. Republicans don’t want free markets or libertarians.

      1. Well, to be fair, does anyone want libertarians?

        1. No. Liberty is scary, Libertarians believe in increased liberty, therefore Libertarians are scary.

        2. Well…your mo–oh wait, she doesn’t either.

          1. That’s why I have a tattoo that says “Mama never loved me”

        3. What would we bitch about?

      2. But it would get the word out and get libertarian ideas in front of a larger audience. The Republican Party race gets lots of coverage, the LP race not so much.

  5. How exactly is a private entity like the Commission, the major political parties and the media networks violating the 1st Amendment?

    1. I think the argument has been that the government is very much embedded into the political process of the two primary parties.

      1. Maybe, but I do not see how that has much to do with how the debates are organised.

        1. Which has probably been why these lawsuits have been categorically rejected.

    2. How exactly are the political parties ‘private entities’? They are a fundraising and vote gathering operation for candidates to Congress and a vote steering operation for Congress itself. The CPD is nothing but a puppet of those two. Both parties REQUIRE the party nominee for President to sign a secret contract that prohibits the candidates from either appearing at any other debate or appearing on any media outlet at the same time as any other non-CPD candidate. IOW it is all structured to ensure that Presidential candidates comply (easy enough anyway) AND that the media complies

      These are nominees for President – not some private sector job with a non-compete clause. Personally I don’t think its a 1st Amendment issue. But I suspect one intention behind an early filing of this sort of lawsuit is to send a message to the media – Grow some balls you poodles. Not that that will work.

      1. It amazes me that some libertarians actually swallow the “private” entity nonsense.

        If the “private” entity is created by government, its not private.

        If the “private” entity is created by the two parties of state, it is not private.

        If the “private” entity is controlled by the state, it is not private.

        If the “private” entity is created by one of the two parties of state, it is not private.

        If the “private” entity gorges on subsidies, it is not private.

        If the “private” entity is immune from laws to which all other, real private entities are subject, it is not a “private” entity.

        1. So, you aren’t a private entity? Because I am pretty sure that you enjoy the benefit of government subsidies every time you take public transport or drive on the Interstate.

          1. My wife does take public transport two days a week. She pays for it – and for what she pays, she gets shitty service.

            Me? Last I checked, I pay both federal and Commonwealth of Mass excise taxes at the pump. I also pay at the tolls on the Mass Pike (which was paid off decades ago). How about the automobile excise tax I pay? How about real estate taxes? How about income taxes? Sales taxes?

            In fact, given all of the corruption, graft, and inefficiency in the construction and maintenance of public transportation and the roads, automobile owners, in particular, and all taxpayers, in general, pay far more than what they get.

            1. In fact, the typical Massachusetts automobile owner assists in subsidizing all of the rent captured by the state and its privileged purveyors of pavement planting and pavement maintenance.

            2. There is no way in hell your wife is paying for the full cost of her journey on the T.

              The T is heavily subsidized. So your wife isn’t a private entity.

              Incidentally, what makes you so sure all those organizations/people you are accusing of not being private also pay more in taxes than the services they get in return?

          2. You sure aren’t a private entity when you are on those roads. You can be hauled off to jail for not having a license.

  6. Not to defend the Commission, but why not set up your own debates? Invite 3-4 other third party candidates and just do it on your own.

    1. They do but not nobody televises/watches them.

      1. Yep. If a third party debate falls in the woods….

        1. Woods PBS

    2. The CPD contract doesn’t allow the major candidates to appear on any media outlet at the same time as a 3rd party candidate. And I’m sure they would define that broadly if the 3rd debate gained traction. eg – pull ads, blacklist the moderators. The media goes along because – well golly, these are also the two candidates – most powerful person in the world – who will execute the laws after the election. How much do you really want to piss them off – and lose money too?

      And what Paul says about dwarfs falling in the woods

  7. I want to moderate the next debate. Submit what questions you’d like me to ask.

    1. What’s your nickname for your junk?

    2. Please talk about Trump some more. For example, would you want Trump to be your child’s godfather? Do you dream about Trump? How many Trumps would fit on the head of a pin?

    3. [To all the candidates, re most of their positions]

      “You’re kidding, right? Tell me you’re kidding.”

      1. Who shot ya, separate the weak from the obsolete, hard to beat these Brooklyn Streets

    4. Why do you want to be President? No, Really?

    5. Why do you want to be President? No, Really?

    6. “Where did you bury Jimmy Hoffa?”

  8. If these duopolists wanted to enforce, or even just obey, their own laws, then the Commission on Presidential Debates wouldn’t be a 501(c)3 nonprofit.

    Nonprofits are subject to the Lyndon Johnson Amendment, which forbids them from supporting or opposing any candidate for office.

    As the IRS explains on its Web page: “voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate *or group of candidates,* will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.” [emphasis added]

    Hmmm…holding a debate featuring some candidates but not others…I wonder if that has the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates.

    Perhaps Lois Lerner can explain this to us.

    1. Disclaimer: I’m opposed to the Lyndon Johnson amendment.

      But the duopolists aren’t. They’re fine with the idea of punishing nonprofits which are “partisan” against them.

      But they gave themselves a carve-out.

      How nice that must be for them.

    2. Man there has to be some way of getting that enforced. I don’t mind making them follow their own dumb regulations.

    3. They’ll just say the same rules apply to all candidates. I get the point but seems like you would have to have a cut off somewhere.

      1. Could be, but imagine what the Lerners of the world would do to a group whose “neutral” criteria excluded Democrats?

        1. Oh, I have no doubt about that.

      2. A reasonable cutoff would be – are you on the ballot in enough states to win the elections (defined as the lowest electoral % a winner has ever received)

        That would also encourage voters to ‘throw away’ their vote if they don’t like tweedledum and tweedledumber. Just vote for a third party – and with enough of those, that third party gets ballot access the next election (in many states).

  9. More fodder for Clock-Hoax “Truufers”

    Ahmed Circulates Photo Showing His Passion for Electronics

    Now… I’ve only ever had to use a soldering iron on like a handful of occasions…(one being a small project making a monosynth, which ended up taking 3 months and didn’t work all that well and which probably cost more than just buying some used piece of crap)… most often simply just repairing guitar jacks and replacing pots….

    …but i feel confident, even as a complete dilettante … that Ahmed has never so much as used one even *once*. because …. just fucking look at that and you tell me. Are you kidding?

    1. Clock-Hoax Truufers would be a great name for a rock band.

    2. Oh yeah that’s totally natural. Like the President throwing the first pitch.

      1. Throwing out the first pitch or reciting, without pause, the complete roster of the White Sox, his favorite team.

        1. Oh he’s a Boston fan? That’s explains a lot. Thought he was from Chicago? How does that work?

          1. Well, is he a Boston fan?

            Tim Thomas in January of 2012.

            Tom Brady this past April 23.

            Let’s not forget that it was David Ortiz who took the initiative with taking the selfie with Obama at the WH.

            OTOH, if there was something in it for him, Obama would be any team’s fan.

    3. First time I’ve seen someone hold a soldering iron like a calligraphy brush. Huh.

      1. I don’t know what you guys are talking about, every time I sodder that is exactly how I sodder stuff, I hold the board thingy in one hand and the hot sodderer in the other and touch the things on the board thing and make electronical things. Its called science or something.

        1. It is science and intelligent people fucking love it.

    4. I maintain that all parties involved are assholes.

      1. certainly.

        The asshole spectrum seems to be going Ultra-Violet in the major media and twitter.

        Its gone from a few media people praising the kid for his bravery and wit… to *#&$@ engineering schools offering him scholarships, SpaceCamp guaranteeing him a free ride (PLEASE BE AN ASTRONAUT!!), and every IT company mailing the kid as much free shit as they can fit on trucks.

        They’ve doubled down on this at lightspeed, which by default now requires them to accuse anyone who suggests that the kid ISNT a genius of being a vile racist conspiracy monger.

        Its so retarded.

        I honestly don’t blame the super-Red conspiracy theorists who think its all a plot by the muslim daddy. Frankly it seems like it was the Maker-nerds who busted the kid first, but now the Trump-crowd is all over it.

        But regardless of that whole angle… the reality appears to be that he’s just a dumb kid who pulled a dumb prank, and now he’s the Muslim-American Thomas Edison (and you’re a racist if you dare suggest otherwise)

          1. And the stupid fucking thing is that, like the #blacklivesmatter nonsense, no one will actually look at the actual “problem” here (zero tolerance enforcement @ schools), and instead just make it into a twitter-war about “islamophobia” and OMG the republicans hate the moozies….

  10. I think two parties is the best system. A President garnering 12% of the vote will create an unstable government.

    It sounds good when it’s libertarian, but it is just as likely to be the Socialists, or Greens. This country would be swinging wildly back and forth, that’s if you could maintain elections.

    1. Cool story bro.

    2. Look up any European party system. Yes, the party system is not as stable, but even proportional voting tends to keep the extremists out, unless they compromise like the Swedish Democrats had and move towards the center. For the most part, the parties that are elected tend to represent general trends and do not swing as wildly as you think, and it’s rare for a party further right or left than center right and center left to lead a coalition or government. Whether this is beneficial for libertarians depends on how close our views are to the “center.” While libertarians in many cases do hold a lot of extremist viewpoints (e.g. legalize prostitution, hard drugs, and full laissez-faire capitalism), many other libertarian positions are increasingly becoming adopted by the major parties and we are seeing a lot of libertarian trends as of late.

  11. The more I read stuff of this, the more readily I want to give up on changing politics entirely. What’s the point?

    It seems like Konkin and Nozick were right all along. The ballot has failed, libertarians are essentially unelectable, and the best way to achieve a libertarian society is through direct action, education, and counter economics.

  12. Look at it this way: Even if Gary Johnson and company deliver an irrefutable argument to the (usually biased and corrupt) judge, on purely self interest grounds the Republicrats can just throw it out simply because they have the power and money to do so. The Republicans and Democrats do not need logical justification (if any exist) to keep minor parties out. They can lie, sue, cheat, and legislate minor parties to oblivion. The system is rigged, and the American people either don’t know it, or are too attached to their current parties and traditions for a massive overhaul.

    1. Ooh, look at little Suzy Sunshine!

  13. It would make more sense for Libertarian candidates to run in the Democrat Presidential Primaries since their views are more aligned with those of the Democrat Party, i.e, for open borders, marijuana legalization, anti-religious liberty, isolationist foreign policy….

    1. Except for the parts that we do not align with, like gun rights, anti affirmative action, lower taxes, less regulation, free trade, small government, and especially fresh perspectives.

      I’ve always considered libertarianism to be an ideology that shouldn’t be compromised with either party, which is why I support the Libertarian Party, even as it becomes clearer that the Libs don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell in being elected.

    2. Might be because the only party less principled than the Republicans is the Democrats?

      1. The party of “small government” (yeah, right) begs to contend that position.

    3. “the Democrat Party, i.e, for open borders

      Nope. They don’t want to reform the law. they just want to exploit it to their advantage by handing out favors to the people that the law “oppresses”. They don’t want liberated immigrants. they want dependents.

      marijuana legalization

      Right. Yet you’ll find that the Big Cities that liberals run? Are the slowest to reform. Because they like the police state as much as anyone.

      anti-religious liberty

      Where did you get the impression that libertarians opposed “religious liberty”?

      (i’m waiting for you to claim that letting gays marry is Oppressing Kim Davis or something. and for the record – I’m all for RFRA insofar as they are about people leaving each other alone. I’m against the state handing out special favors to anyone)

      ‘isolationist foreign policy….’

      Right. Because Dems have such a great track record of keeping their dirty little fingers out of international conflicts. Someone needs to crack open a history book. Or, hell…. just pay @#(*$ attention to the world around you.

    4. When it comes to choosing a side to run on, because statist scumbags have cornered the market, Republicans are the least statist scumbags of the two choices.

  14. So what if you beat the CPD in court? Then the major party candidates will simply stop attending CPD debates, & conduct their own from which others are excluded.

    1. Pretty much. More people want to watch the Ds and Rs than watch the other parties’ candidates.

      But while I support the CPD’s First Amendment right to promote the Big 2 over all other parties, and am against taking away government “benefits”* from them in retaliation for their free expression – it’s a bit much for the Ds and Rs to then turn around and Express Concern about *other* tax-exempt organizations engaging in partisan politics.

      *Assuming for the sake of argument that nonprofit tax status is a “benefit” in the same sense as welfare or subsidized tuition at a state college. One could certainly argue that the nonprofit sector fills public needs which would otherwise need to be satisfied out of the public treasury. But I’ll skip that argument for now.

      1. Of course, since the CPD is a creature of the top 2 parties, then subsidies specifically earmarked for them would be just as bad a subsidies earmarked specifically for the Democratic or Republican parties.

        1. as bad *as*

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