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ABC Responds to Bachelor Discrimination Claim: Casting Is Protected by the First Amendment

EMILY MAYNARD, THE BACHELORETTE ABC/ANGELINE HERRON

It's a free country, right?

That's what ABC's attorneys have to say, anyway, about the racial-discrimination suit filed in April against the network and producers of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, which charged that the hit road-to-romance shows unfairly leave anyone who isn't white out of the mix.

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"Television casting decisions are protected by the First Amendment," counsel for ABC and the shows' producers argue in court documents filed June 1 stating their intent to file a motion to both dismiss the case and request a change of venue.

The defendants maintain that lawsuit should be transferred from U.S. District Court in Tennessee to Los Angeles, because all 23 seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette were completely cast there—and that's where "virtually all of the material witnesses" are.

Warner Horizon Television previously stated that the suit was without merit and that both shows have always been "vocal about seeking diverse candidates."

MORE: Spoiler Alert! ABC Accidentally Leaks Bachelorette's Eliminated Contestants

The motions to dismiss and request a change of venue both need to be filed by June 14. ABC attorney Adam Levin has not yet responded to a request for comment.

In the meantime, plaintiffs Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson—both of whom said they threw their hats into the suitor ring and never made it to the second round of interviews—are asking for a postponement of the deadline to file the class certification motion that would qualify their case as a class-action suit.

Their attorneys maintain that the alleged discrimination occurred in Tennessee, so the case should stay there.

UPDATE: ABC files motion to dismiss the racial discrimination suit, filed on June 28 in U.S. District Court in Tennessee to the attorneys representing two men suing The Bachelor.

"Plaintiffs' conclusory allegations of racially discriminatory casting for The Bachelor and The Bachelorette are demonstrably false and unsupportable," ABC attorneys Adam Levin and Seth Pierce say in the suit. "This is not a case of racial discrimination. Rather, this lawsuit is about Plaintiffs' attempt to communicate their preferred message to the public by controlling the content and casting of Defendants' television series."

—Reporting by Baker Machado

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