Last week Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein was arrested, along with VP candidate Cheri Honkala, attempting to get into the presidential debates in Hempstead, New York. This week her fight continues with a lawsuit filed today against the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), claiming that the CPD, Democratic National Committee, and Republican National Committee, together with the Federal Election Commission and Lynn University, had deprived her of her constitutional rights to due process, equal protection, and free speech, as well as her statutorily protected civil rights.
The lawsuit sought both an emergency court order enjoining tonight’s CPD presidential debate from taking place, as well monetary damages. According to the lawsuit pleadings, “Dr. Jill Stein is not only equal under the law to the two “major party” candidates, she is better, because she became a viable contender for the Presidency while being discriminated against by the defendants at every turn.”
“Our constitution is supposed to protect us against manipulations of democracy of the kind scheduled tonight, and I hope the court will act now to stop this farce, but either way, we will keep up the fight, and one of these days American elections and our debates will be reclaimed by the American people,” said Stein.
Meanwhile, Free & Equal, a genuinely non-partisan civic organization, is hosting an alternative debate hosted by Larry King tomorrow, Tuesday, October 23 at the Chicago Hilton featuring Dr. Jill Stein, Gov. Gary Johnson and others. Unfortunately, no major cable networks in the U.S. are airing this debate; rather it is being brought to the American people via television by Al Jazeera and Russia Today.
“It shouldn’t be the case that the only TV networks bringing this debate to the American people are based in countries whose political systems are even less democratic than our own,” said Ben Manski, campaign manager for Jill Stein, adding that, “The failure of CNN, MSNBC, and others to broadcast the debate only adds to the global perception that the United States doesn’t live up to the democratic standards it professes.”
Dr. Stein and Ms. Honkala will appear on 85% of ballots on Election Day, and recently polled 2-3% in four consecutive national polls. Furthermore, Dr. Stein is the only presidential candidate recognized by the federal government as a serious candidate, as evidenced by the fact that she alone among general election candidates has qualified for federal public financing.
The presidential debates are the first opportunity for millions of voters to see the candidates themselves, not just their advertising campaigns. Until recently, these debates were exclusively organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) – a supposedly “nonpartisan” entity which is a puppet of and serves the interests of the Democrats, Republicans and the big corporations that fund both of them. The CPD’s criteria to be included in these debates is designed to exclude independent presidential contenders who promote ideas that challenge those in power.
Over 14,000 have signed a statement calling on CPD to change its criteria, and repeated public calls for opening the CPD debates have been ignored by that corporation.
“The debates must include every candidate who is on enough ballots to win the White House and who has demonstrated a minimal level of support — meaning either 1% of the vote in a credible national poll, or qualification for federal matching funds, or both,” reads the statement. “In 2012, the Green and Libertarian party candidates both meet all of these criteria and are both contenders for the presidency…These debates belong to the people, not the politicians or Wall Street.”
Free and Equal Election’s Alternative Debates will be available live online, streaming from http://freeandequal.org/live on Oct. 23 and Oct. 30 at 9:00 PM EST. More information at: http://action.freeandequal.org/debate-rsvp/
Gary Johnson is also suing the CPD, Help the CPD is spearheading activism on this issue (along with other groups), and Art DiBianca has a complaint to the IRS about the CPD’s tax exempt staus that other people could also copy.