LAS VEGAS (CN) – The Nevada Supreme Court ruled yesterday that NBC Universal could exclude Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich from last night’s debate in Las Vegas. The court overturned a lower court’s order that the broadcast company had to include Kucinich in a televised debate on MSNBC before Saturday’s Nevada caucuses.
In a ruling issued shortly before the debate, the Nevada Supreme Court said it would be an “unconstitutional prior restraint” to make NBC block the debate unless Kucinich participated. The ruling allowed MSNBC to proceed without him.
The debate featured top candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards. A lawyer for NBC Universal told the Associated Press that MSNBC chose to limit the debate to the top three candidates after the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries.
In his lawsuit, Kucinich claimed NBC invited him to the debate on Jan. 9, then withdrew the invitation on Jan. 11. He said NBC’s rejection “is effectively an endorsement of the candidates selected by NBC.”
NBC Universal is 80 percent owned by General Electric and 20 percent owned by Vivendi, and televised and co-sponsored the debate. See complaint and ruling.