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Lawsuit: Ending Two-Party Duopoly over Debates Will Lead to More Competitive Elections

Created: 11 August, 2016
Updated: 17 October, 2022
2 min read

As IVN recently reported, the lawsuit filed by the Green and Libertarian parties arguing that the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) violated anti-trust laws was dismissed in federal court. Fortunately, the lawsuit to open the debates filed by Level the Playing Field (the successor to Americans Elect) and Peter Ackerman – joined by the Green and Libertarian parties – is still very much alive.

Level the Playing Field’s lawsuit argues that the Federal Election Commission (FEC) arbitrarily and capriciously failed to recognize the obvious: That the CPD is a partisan organization whose debate access rules serve only the interests of the Democratic and Republican parties in maintaining their stranglehold on our nation’s electoral processes.

Though the judge’s decision in our case likely will not affect the 2016 presidential campaign, this is hardly an idle exercise. If Level the Playing Field wins the lawsuit with the kind of ruling we hope for, then the entire presidential election process can be reimagined and re-engineered for subsequent elections beginning in 2020.

READ MORE: Group Sues FEC to Open Presidential Debates to Independent Candidates

We are confident that had this lawsuit prevailed two years ago, many qualified and inspiring Americans without affiliation with either the Democratic or Republican parties would have run for president in 2016. The American voter would now have excellent choices in addition to Trump and Clinton, who are each viewed negatively by a record percentage of the American public.

This potential effect on future elections explains why the FEC, which is run by members of the two major parties, has fought our lawsuit and prior efforts to reform the CPD so diligently. While the major parties may no longer have any ideological coherence, they intend to jealously guard their gatekeeper status for aspiring presidential candidates into the foreseeable future.

As Americans Elect proved – by completing the largest signature drive in U.S. history – there are tens of millions of Americans who want to vote for an unaffiliated presidential contender. If our lawsuit prevails, we will have taken a gigantic step toward fulfilling that possibility. Then the 43%(and growing) who identify as unaffiliated voters could unite with the 27% moderate voters from both parties and create a winner capable of governing in everyone’s interest.

Level the Playing Field’s lawsuit is now been fully argued in federal court by both sides and a ruling can come at any time. Stay tuned.