Amicus Briefs Filed in Support of Shapiro Arato Motion for Summary Judgment Against FEC
On Wednesday, April 13th, The Independent Voter Project (“IVP”) and FairVote, two non-profit organizations dedicated to voter education and electoral reform, filed amicus curiae briefs in support of Shapiro Arato’s Motion for Summary Judgment on behalf of Plaintiffs Level the Playing Field, Peter Ackerman, the Green Party of the United States, and the Libertarian National Committee, Inc. in their lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission (“FEC”).
Plaintiffs’ suit challenges the FEC’s dismissal of two administrative complaints against the Commission on Presidential Debates (“CPD”), alleging that the CPD has violated federal election laws that require them to be non-partisan and to apply “objective criteria” in determining who may participate in the presidential debates. Plaintiffs also challenge the FEC’s denial of a petition to initiate a rulemaking to revise its regulations governing debate-staging organizations to limit the use of polling as an exclusive means of accessing the general election presidential and vice-presidential debates. Amicus IVP argues that the Democratic and Republican Parties’ monopolistic control over national elections threatens the fundamental right to representation in our democracy, by permitting the manipulation of the political system to preclude legitimate competition and inhibiting the “competition of ideas and governmental policies that are at the core of our electoral process and First Amendment freedoms.” IVP argues that the two-party control over the political process is particularly problematic given the plurality of voters who identify as an independents. Amicus FairVote argues that the CPD’s rule requiring candidates to poll at 15% in an average of five national public opinion polls in order to be eligible for the CPD’s debates is unjustified. FairVote argues that polling data is “insufficiently reliable to be used as the sole determinant for debate inclusion,” and observes that the CPD’s high polling threshold is substantially less inclusive than the candidate selection criteria used in state elections and internationally. FairVote concludes that this evidence suggests the rule is intentionally anti-competitive rather than rationally related to non-partisan goals.