- The Washington Times - Monday, June 9, 2008

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader said last week he would appeal a dismissal of his recent federal lawsuit in which the judge in essence called him a sore loser.

Mr. Nader sued the Democratic National Committee, its lawyers and supporters for what he called a “conspiracy” to keep him off the ballot during the 2004 presidential election.

The lawsuit accuses the Democratic National Committee of deluging Mr. Nader with legal complaints about his eligibility to be a candidate in an attempt to eliminate any chances he could take votes away from Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts during the Democratic primary elections.

It also says Kerry supporters interfered with a petition drive in June 2004 at Portland, Ore., preventing Mr. Nader from getting enough signatures to be on the state’s ballot.

The Kerry campaign denied the claims, saying neither Mr. Kerry nor the Democratic National Committee was involved.

“That’s not true,” Mr. Nader said in an interview with The Washington Times. “They managed it. [Former presidential candidate] Howard Dean was phoning and getting people to infiltrate our campaign. There’s all kinds of evidence they’re directly involved.”

Mr. Dean is now chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He ran for president in 2004.

Democratic Party supporters challenged the Nader campaign in 18 states, keeping the consumer advocate off the ballot in five of them.

Mr. Nader said the Democrats disputed his eligibility as a candidate “to distract and drain us.”

A U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia judge dismissed the lawsuit Mr. Nader filed against the Democratic National Committee in a May 27 ruling.

Mr. Nader sued “rather than attributing his poor showing to public disenchantment with independent candidates following the closely divided 2000 presidential election or an unpopular platform or any one of the array of reasons that voters choose one candidate over another,” the court’s ruling said.

Only 465,650 voters cast their votes for Mr. Nader in 2004, the court said.

He has been a candidate for president in every campaign since 1996, including the current one.

The defendants argued they were exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech, which include filing lawsuits and other legal petitions.

The federal court agreed.

Among the allegations in Mr. Nader’s lawsuit, it said the Democratic National Committee engaged in “abuse of process,” which means the committee or its supporters filed a series of ballot eligibility complaints not to resolve a dispute, but merely to harass Mr. Nader and run up his legal bills.

Anyone who claims abuse of process must prove the complaints against them are “false or baseless,” the court said.

Mr. Nader could only show the Democratic National Committee had “partisan motives” of supporting candidates such as Mr. Kerry, which was not abuse of process, the court’s ruling said.

The ruling also denied Mr. Nader’s request for an injunction to prevent the Democratic National Committee or its supporters from engaging in similar conspiracies in the future, which the court interpreted as the 2008 presidential campaign.

“They seek relief that is simply inappropriate,” the ruling said.

There was no evidence Mr. Nader would be subjected to conspiracies against him in 2008 or any other time, the ruling said.

Mr. Nader said that so far, no one has tried to harass him with lawsuits during the current campaign.

“We’re ready for them this year,” Mr. Nader said during a campaign tour of New England states. “We’ve got pro bono lawyers coast to coast. If they try to do it this year, we will not be caught off guard.”

Mr. Nader’s attorney, Oliver Hall, said constitutional issues overlooked by the District Court’s ruling will be raised on appeal.

*Above the Law runs on Mondays. Call Tom Ramstack at 202/636-3180 or e-mail tramstack@washingtontimes.com.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide