(CN) – Ralph Nader waited too long to sue the Democratic National Committee for allegedly conspiring to effectively shut down his 2004 presidential campaign, the D.C. Circuit ruled, sidestepping the constitutional issues raised on appeal.
Nader sued the DNC in late 2007, claiming it launched a “far-reaching conspiracy” to keep the independent candidate from purportedly siphoning votes from the Democratic Party.
Nader, who was widely blamed for the Democrats’ loss in the 2000 election, claimed many influential Democratic leaders retaliated with lawsuits meant to bankrupt his 2004 campaign.
In his federal lawsuit, Nader accused the DNC and the Kerry-Edwards campaign of launching a “massive, nationwide unlawful assault on his candidacy, using unfounded litigation to harass, obstruct and drain his campaign of resources, deny him ballot access and effectively prevent him from running for public office.”
The district court dismissed the case on the ground that ruling for Nader would punish the DNC for activity protected by the First Amendment.
But the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., declined to address the merits those claims, instead ruling that the case was barred by the three-year statute of limitations.
“Because every victim of a baseless suit immediately knows their injury and its cause in fact,” Judge Tatel wrote, “the question is only whether the allegations in the complaint establish that Nader knew, or should have known, of ‘some evidence’ of a conspiracy to abusively deploy a pattern of baseless suits against him.
“The answer to that question is yes,” the court concluded.