Lawsuit Could Change Presidential Debates Forever Says Attorney for Independent Voter Project

Author: Jeff Powers
Created: 16 October, 2017
Updated: 21 November, 2022
2 min read


Chad Peace, attorney for the Independent Voter Project, as well as 6 high-profile signatories, filed an amicus brief on September 22, 2017, in support of a legal challenge brought by Level the Playing Field (LPF).

On October 13, Peace spoke about the brief and its significance to changing the exclusionary presidential debate rules on NBC7 in San Diego.

"The brief argues that the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates' (CPD) 15 percent rule exacerbates the political divide in the US, leaves millions of voters unrepresented in presidential elections, and undermines fundamental democratic principles in order to protect the two-party duopoly," a previous IVN article reports.

The six individual signatories are credible and qualified candidates for president that would consider running absent barriers like the 15 percent rule that would kill their candidacies:

  • Admiral James Stavridis, a retired Navy admiral;
  • Sen. Joseph Robert Kerrey, former governor and senator of Nebraska;
  • Sen. Joe Lieberman, former senator of Connecticut;
  • Hon. Clarine Nardi Riddle, first female attorney general of Connecticut and co-founder of No Labels;
  • Hon. David M. Walker, seventh comptroller general of the US and co-founder of No Labels; and
  • Hon. Christine Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey and administrator of the EPA

“These highly qualified Americans represent the tip of the iceberg,” the amicus states. “It is impossible to know how many others whose ideas, energy, and hopes for America’s future are held captive by the arbitrary and impenetrable barrier to participation presented by the CPD’s 15% rule.”

By many estimates, audiences neared 100 million viewers for the most recent CPD 2016 presidential general election debates. Nearly one-third of all Americans were exposed to the calculated barbs traded by the Republican candidate Donald J. Trump and the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.This was pugilism by personal attack and not a debate of ideas about the state of our country and its future. As stated by Mrs. Clinton herself—this was reality television. It’s the consequence of limiting the governing flow of participants and ideas. And, although the spectacle may drive media ratings up, its consequence is devastating to the body politic, as perception drives real behaviors. - Amicus Brief, Introduction.

The Independent Voter Project and joining signatories filed the brief in support of LPF’s motion for summary judgment on a second complaint against the FEC in May.

LPF says the FEC continues to ignore the “mountain of evidence” against the debate commission, and is acting “arbitrarily and capriciously and contrary to law.”

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