In an unexpected decision Tuesday, a federal judge issued a ruling which may allow third-party candidates to mount a serious bid for the White House as early as 2020.
The lawsuit, originally filed in 2014 by Level the Playing Field, a non-profit group advocacy group aiming to change the rules on third-party participation in presidential debates founded by New York businessman Peter Ackerman, was filed on behalf of the Green and Libertarian parties.
Leveling the Playing Field v. FEC revolves around rules put into place by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), which plaintiffs say knowingly obstruct third-party candidates from presidential debates for 25 years.
Under CPD rules, candidates “must appear on a sufficient number of state ballots, and have a level of support of at least 15 percent of the national electorate as determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations, using the average of those organizations’ most recently publicly-reported results at the time of the determination.”
In a searing 28-page decision, Judge Tanya S. Chutkan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled the FEC had acted “arbitrary, capricious and contrary to law,” when it rejected a complaint from Level the Playing Field.
Judge Chutkan ordered the FEC to review the matter and resubmit a decision to the court consistent with her ruling with 30 days.
Although the FEC and Green Party declined to comment on Chutkan’s decision, Libertarian National Committee chair Nicholas Sarwark said:
“We hope that this ruling will get the FEC to start following and enforcing the law fairly. For decades, the FEC has been complicit by willfully ignoring the evidence that the CPD is running an illegal bipartisan campaign commercial.”
Texas businessman Ross Perot in 1992 and Illinois Independent John B. Anderson in 1980 are the last third-party candidates to appear in presidential debates.
Perot’s appearance was only at the invitation of then-President George H.W. Bush and then-Gov. Bill Clinton and President Carter refused to show in 1980 when Anderson was included in a debate against GOP challenger Ronald Reagan.
[RT America] [Commission on Presidential Debates] [Photo courtesy Washington Times]