On January 6, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Fernando Olguin ruled that Gary Johnson’s lawsuit against the Commission on Presidential Debates does not belong in his courtroom. Judge Olguin is a judge in Los Angeles. The decision says that Gary Johnson can’t sue the Commission in California because the Commission doesn’t have enough of a presence in California to allow jurisdiction. Olguin is an Obama appointee.
The lawsuit had been filed in California because Johnson’s running mate, James Gray, lives there. But the ruling says that Gray never received as much as 15% in any national poll for vice-president, so Gray’s residency is irrelevant.
The case had been filed in September 2012 because the Johnson campaign had submitted evidence that Johnson is at or above 15% in certain national opinion polls. These polls asked respondents if they prefer President Obama or Gary Johnson, and Johnson received well above 15% in each of them. Because the Commission on Presidential Debate rules only require a candidate to be at or above 15% in national polls, and say nothing about which candidates must be listed in these polls, Johnson argued that he met the CPD’s criteria. However, none of the polls submitted by the Johnson campaign asked about the vice-presidential candidates.
The case in Los Angeles is still alive, because the Judge only removed the Commission on Presidential Debates from the case. The lawsuit had also sued the Democratic and Republican national committees, and they have a significant presence in California, so the lawsuit against them is still alive. The decision says that Johnson should have filed his lawsuit against the CPD in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., where the Commission has its headquarters.
It appears that the remainder of the case will be decided by a jury, and a jury trial is set for January 27, 2014. However, that trial will be postponed. The case number in the central district of California is cv12-1600.