Perot Loses Debate Challenge
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Oct. 1) -- A federal judge today refused to order Ross Perot included in this month's presidential debates, saying his court had no jurisdiction over the matter. He instead referred the case to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
"This court, and other courts, have ruled the FEC is bound by these procedures and must follow them," said U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Hogan in his ruling.
Reform Party nominee Perot and John Hagelin, the Natural Law Party's nominee, dispute the recommendation made by the Commission on Presidential Debates last month that only GOP nominee Bob Dole and President Bill Clinton should be included in Sunday's presidential debate and a second one set for Oct. 16.
Russell Verney, Perot's national coordinator, said before Hogan handed down his decision that the campaign would immediately appeal any adverse ruling. But it is not clear that an appeals court can address the issue before Sunday.
"There's a second court that this case is going to be tried in," Verney said, "and that's the court of public opinion. And the public is becoming outraged that the two parties that have a monopoly on this system are locking out the only voice that will bring to this debate a discussion of the legitimate issues that face this country."
Lawyers for Perot and Hagelin argued that the debate commission, which is made up of Democrats and Republicans, only wants to maintain the supremacy of the two-party system.
Perot's staff has added to their list of complaints against the commission, saying that commission sponsors -- several of whom are supporters of the North American Free Trade Agreement -- wanted to silence Perot, the trade pact's best-known critic.
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