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News ::
Nader lawsuit demands: Declare debate commission illegal
05 Oct 2000
Lawyers representing Green Party candidate for president Ralph Nader today argued that the Commission on Presidential Debates, a private non-profit corporation that organized Tuesday night's showdown between Democratic candidate Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush, be declared in violation of federal election law.
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nader lawsuit demands: declare debate commiss
05 Oct 2000
I have no legal training so I cant figure whether this suit will go anywhere or not. But I'm sure that the courts are the only possible venue to correct the situation of third party candidates being barred from the debates and from media coverage.

Media have not only largely ignored Nader's campaign (very irresponsible of them considering Nader's stature and reputation in American public life), they ignored the mass demonstrations outside the Democratic convention in LA and outside the debate in Boston---I'm not kidding, I watched forty minutes of post-debate analysis on CBS by various pundits, about who seemed more confident or made more rhetorical points and such hogwash, and got NO information about what was happening outside the hall. Imagine the media ignoring an event of that importance at any time in the sixties or seventies! Monopolistic control of the media has advanced a lot since then.

The fact that the FEC has such sovereign disdain for the will of the people (some 60% of whom wanted Nader in the debates) tells me that only the courts can correct the situation---that is, if they want to. So far the courts have not ruled in an encouraging way. But I would love to see the CPD, which tailors the debate format to the wishes of the big party candidates, declared illegal. I would love to go back to the League of Women Voters, who did a very good job and who I suspect would have invited Nader and Buchanan..
Most critical case in US courts
06 Oct 2000
This is the most important case to hit a US court in my lifetime. If the courts deny Nader's claim, democracy will be set back 100 years. The American people MUST have the right to see ALL of the candidates running for their presidency in general, and ought to be exposed to Ralph Nader's progressive agenda. Even if he has little chance of getting elected, the people have a right to hear what his party is all about. The debates are the only forum in which a comprehensive view of the candidates is given to us. Give us Ralph, and as much as I dislike him, give us Buchanan...for that matter, give us the candidates from ALL of the parties: libertarian, socialist, communist, social democrats, etc... It is wrong for the people not to have the access to these candidates that the debates offer. It is DEFINATELY wrong for the COPD to even exist as a corporation. If they must have organizers, let it be a government body composed of representatives of ALL politcal parties, right on down to the smallest of them.
Harry Browne
06 Oct 2000
I must take issue with Tom's position that both Nader and Buchanan must be let in, without mention of the Third Party which has consistently been the largest ( if not most demonstrative ) constituency and with the longest retention rates of any of the current alternative parties. The Libertarians are routinely ignored in favor of more radical and more easily categorized candidates such as the Socialist Greens and the now far right-wing Reform party under Buchanan.
We must ask ourselves a real question though when deciding exactly what we ( the protesters, collectively ) want as an alternative. The next posting advocates letting everyone in, which may sound nice, but should a man who can rely on a single vote for President ( his own ) such as some of the extreme fringe candidates, really be allowed on the podiums? A debate with several thousand candidites, some of which were getting in the single digit total votes would be ludicrous, although I whole-heartily agree that the 15% current standard is equally ludicrous and unrepresentative. I believe somewhere around 1% would make for a reasonable standard, perhaps even .05%, this is still a hard mark to achieve for those who are not serious, but not impossible for any long-term movement with any serious political backbone. At present, this would make for much more interesting debates, with at least 4-6 candidites representing a much wider range of views and still reasonably able to present a meaningful cross-section of their views when the time is divided up between them.
United we stand, divided we get the crap beat out of
Don't count on the courts
08 Oct 2000
I wrote the top post, so I obviously think this court case is worth covering, but I have to disagree with respondents who think that the courts will be some kind of savior or even "last best hope." Nader himself has declared that one of the reasons he is running for office is that his life's work--using the law to reform society--has been undercut to the point of near uselessness.

Note at the end that the FEC--"your" government--argued in federal court that Nader's suit should be dismissed on a futility argument. That is, they argue that should some decision come down that says, "The debates as constituted are in violation of federal law," there will still be no way to stop CPD poobahs and the two parties from doing what they want.

Know what? They're probably right.

Nader's attorneys made almost the same case almost two months ago as they did this week. The earlier case was dismissed with little notice by the media or by progressive activists. On O3, with a little street theatre, a stupid over-reaction by CPD officials, and 5000 people flooding the streets, Nader's case is suddenly more compelling--not because the law has changed, but because the context in which a decision has to be made has changed.

It was interesting to sit in the courtroom. Most of the audience was made of lawyers and parties on other appeal cases that day, but a lot of people stuck around for this. I saw three lawyers who were clearly laughing under their breath at the FEC's argument, not I would guess because they had problems with the legal position of their brother at the bar--they probably would have had to make the same kind of arguments if in his place--but because they clearly wanted his side ("our" government) to lose. It had become a clear good guy-bad guy thing, among some of the world's most jaded. One Nader supporter got a thumb's up from a worker in the court clerk's office. It's hard to know just how these little historical moments happen, but the word is out on these phony debates.

In brief, it probably won't matter how this decision comes out. The most important work has been done in the streets.

To the person who discussed debate participation: I don't see why poll numbers should have anything to do with it. The Left Business Observer has a discussion list where what I think is a clearly sensible set of criteria was put forth: Open debates to anyone who is on ballots in enough states to get a possible electoral vote majority. This would as of now include Gore, Bush, Nader, Buchanan, Browne, Hagelin, and Phillips. (McReynolds doesn't make the cut, I'm sorry to see.)