Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson filed a lawsuit against ABC in April, saying show producers discriminate against contestants of color. The men said their attempt to appear on the series was never given serious consideration.
But on Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger ruled that the lawsuit should not continue because the casting decisions are protected by the First Amendment. Trauger said the lawsuit sought to change and regulate the shows' content.
"As the defendants persuasively argue, casting decisions are a necessary component of any entertainment show's creative content. The producers of a television program, a movie, or a play could not effectuate their creative vision, as embodied in the end product marketed to the public, without signing cast members," Trauger said. "The plaintiffs seek to drive an artificial wedge between casting decisions and the end product, which itself is indisputably protected as speech by the First Amendment. Thus, regulating the casting process necessarily regulates the end product."
The plaintiffs have not released a response to the ruling. ABC and Warner Horizon Television said they're pleased with the decision.
"We felt from the onset this case was completely without merit and we are pleased the Court has found in our favor," the defendants said in a statement.