- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Libertarian and Green parties - along with their respective presidential candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein - filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court, charging that the exclusion of “qualified candidates” from the general election presidential debates by the Commission on Presidential Debates violates federal anti-trust laws.

“For over 25 years, the Commission on Presidential Debates has used millions of dollars in tax-deductible contributions from big corporations to rig the rules, keeping Americans from hearing from anyone but the two old parties in debates,” said Nicholas Sarwark, chairman of the National Libertarian Committee.

“If two teams got together to make sure that only they could make it to the Super Bowl, people would be outraged at the cheating. With this lawsuit, we’re standing up for the right of Americans to have fair debates between all candidates who are on enough ballots to become president,” Mr. Sarwark noted.

The legal challenge maintains that the commission “intentionally limits participation in the nationally-televised debates to the Democrat and Republican nominees - placing other national parties’ nominees at an unfair disadvantage.” The ultimate demand: include all candidates in presidential debates who are legally qualified to serve and whose names appear on enough states’ ballots to potentially secure a majority in the Electoral College.

The third party folk have also founded the Coalition for Fair Debates, an umbrella group for politicians, interest and advocacy groups.

“A majority of Americans do not believe the Republican or Democrat parties represent their views, and are more ready than ever to consider alternatives to the status quo,” said Ron Nielson, a senior adviser for the group. “They deserve the opportunity to see and hear from all the viable candidates – not just the Republican and the Democrat.”

The lawsuit itself is funded by Our America Initiative, a not-for-profit advocacy organization, and filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by Bruce Fein, former Associate Deputy Attorney General and General Counsel to the Federal Communications Commission under the Reagan administration.

• Jennifer Harper can be reached at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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