Level the Playing Field Debates Case Returns to Court

Ballot Access News

Two lawsuits are currently pending to force the Commission on Presidential Debates to ease its rules on who can participate in general election presidential debates. One of those cases, Level the Playing Field v Federal Election Commission, charges that the FEC has a duty to enforce federal campaign finance law, and that this means the FEC must tell the Commission to change its policy. The other co-plaintiffs in this case are Peter Ackerman, the Green Party, and the Libertarian Party.

In February 2017, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan had ruled that the FEC had not done a good job of evaluating the evidence, and she ordered the FEC to try again. In March the FEC had reconsidered the evidence, but had stuck to its original position that the Commission is not breaking federal campaign law. Plaintiffs feel that new FEC determination, like the original one, is arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to law.

On May 22, Judge Chutkan ruled that the plaintiffs can supplement their original complaint to argue that the new FEC determination is incorrect. This saves the plaintiffs from having to file an entirely new lawsuit. After the supplemental complaint is filed, the FEC will have 60 days to respond. The FEC agrees that it is proper in this case to allow a supplemental complaint instead of requiring an entirely new lawsuit. Thanks to Shawn Griffiths for this news.

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