On September 21, Gary Johnson, his running mate James Gray, and the Johnson-Gray Campaign filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in the central district of California against the Commission on Presidential Debates, the Democratic National Committee, and the Republican National Committee. The lawsuit alleges that the Commission on Presidential Debates and the two major parties are restraining competition. To answer the complaint that anti-trust law only relates to business, the complaint points out that the salary of the president is $400,000, and that Johnson is seeking to obtain the job of President, so economics is involved. The case is Johnson v Commission on Presidential Debates, cv-12-01600. Here is the complaint.
The case is assigned to Judge Philip S. Gutierrez, a Bush Jr. appointee. He has only had one previous case involving a minor party. He heard Libertarian Party of Los Angeles County v Bowen, a case against California’s restriction on out-of-district petitioners. In that case, he ruled that because the Secretary of State says she doesn’t enforce the law, therefore the plaintiffs lack standing to sue to overturn it. The Ninth Circuit took a somewhat different view, sending the case to arbirtration and signaling that if the arbitration doesn’t result in significant changes in state policy, the law will be held unconstitutional.
The lawsuit says that any presidential candidate on the ballot in enough states to theoretically win the presidency must be included in the debates. The venue is proper because James Gray lives in the central district of California. The attorney for the case is Paul Jensen. The lawsuit was filed a few hours after the Commission on Presidential Debates formally said only President Obama and Mitt Romney may participate in the first two debates. Here is the Commission’s announcement. Thanks to Independent Political Report for the news.