LIBERTARIAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE, et al. v.. TERRY HOLIDAY, et al., No. 17-6216 (6th Cir.) November 2, 2018.
A Kentucky educational television station decided that its practice of permitting any candidate for public office to participate in its broadcast debates had produced some undesirable results as non-serious individuals or individuals seeking only a television appearance failed to contribute to the debates substantively. The station decided that it would limit participants in a debate among candidates for the U.S. Senate to those meeting certain qualifications that would demonstrate at least a minimal chance of winning the vote of one in 10 Kentuckians. . Candidate Patterson failed to meet those criteria.
As Supreme Court precedent has established that educational television stations may, consistently with their obligations to act in the public interest, apply uniform non-viewpoint discriminatory criteria to speakers without violating the First Amendment, and as no evidence of discrimination against Patterson’s viewpoints had been adduced, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld the trial court’s determination that no basis could be found upon which to abrogate the television station officials’ qualified immunity.