Johnson’s & Stein’s Exclusion from 2012 Presidential Debates Constitutional

Gary Johnson and Jill Stein–the respective nominees of the Libertarian and Green parties–were excluded from the 2012 presidential debates.  They sued, claiming that the Commission of Presidential Debates violated their First Amendment rights by excluding them based on their viewpoints.

Last month, their case was finally decided by a federal appellate court.  The D.C. Circuit dispensed with their First Amendment argument in less than two pages.  They argued that the Commission’s requirement that candidates have at least 15% support in the polls was selected with the specific intent of excluding candidates with viewpoints/party affiliations different from the two major parties.

Johnson and Stein had also alleged that the Obama and Romney campaigns had colluded to exclude them from the debates in violation of the antitrust laws.  The Court rejected their antitrust claims as well.

Case: Johnson v. Comm’n on Presidential Debates, No. 16-7107 (D.C. Cir. Aug. 29, 2017) (opinion here)

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