Debate update | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Debate update

Posted By on Tue, Oct 17, 2006 at 3:35 PM

A$a! and Mike! will debate tonight at the Clinton Library.  7 p.m. on KARK, Channel 4.

Circuit Judge Tim Fox heard arguments for about 45 minutes, deliberated for about 15 and then ruled this afternoon that he would not enjoin the debate, sponsored by the Clinton School of Public Service. Lawyers for independent candidate Rod Bryan had argued for the injunction. They said that a public forum for gubernatorial candidates had been created by the debates and that exclusion of some candidates amounted to viewpoint discrimination and violation of Bryan's First Amendment rights.

Fox said he heard no constitutional violation. He cited, as did University attorneys, the Ralph Forbes case against the Arkansas Educational Television Commission. There, a public entity set rules that excluded Forbes, a white supremacist, from a televised debate and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the decision. As university lawyers noted, the debate tonight is being held under rules devised by the two major party candidates and the Clinton School merely provided a forum. It happens to not be a state facility.

Fox said it was a matter of public policy for the legislature to decide, not a court, on whether debates held on public property should be open to all candidates.


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