Court sides with Georgetown in excluding DC mayoral hopeful from debate

D.C. mayoral hopeful James Q. Butler won’t be taking the debate stage Wednesday night after the U.S. District Court dismissed his case against host Georgetown University for excluding him.

“Now while I’m not entirely pleased with (the decision), I respect the process, and I fought to be on that stage tonight,” Butler said in a recorded video Wednesday. “That same type of fight that I fought and sued Georgetown with, is the same type of fight that I will take to the Wilson building every day and fight for you.”

Butler, a candidate in the June 21 Democratic mayoral primary, sued Georgetown because he argued that he met one of the university’s three criteria needed to be invited — that he was polling at 3% or greater in an independent public poll sponsored by a media organization released between Feb. 1 and May 18.

But Georgetown said the Twitter poll Butler cited from the Washington Informer wasn’t classified as an “independent public poll.” He also argued that a February poll where 4% of respondents selected “Other” was sufficient given he said he was the “other” candidate.

The U.S. District Court saw it differently.

“Plaintiff’s Complaint is facially deficient and must be dismissed because it fails to identify any cause of action against Georgetown,” the court’s decision read. “The Complaint’s single count only requests injunctive relief, which is not a stand-alone claim.”

The court said that his lack of a claim meant that his case would likely fail on the merits, nor could he could argue that more harm would come to him rather than Georgetown for being excluded from the debate.

Butler’s lengthy delay in filing his complaint was its own ground for denial, according to the court.

After Butler had told Georgetown that he would “seek injunctive relief from the court” on May 10 — the deadline to meet the university’s debate criteria — he waited more than two weeks to do so.

You can watch Butler’s full response video on Facebook.

Matthew Delaney

Matt Delaney is a digital web writer/editor who joined WTOP in 2020.

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