New Amicus Briefs Show Broad Range of Support for NJ Moderate Party Lawsuit to Re-Legalize Fusion Voting


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Groups, Officials and Scholars from Across Political Spectrum Highlight Importance of Pro-Democracy Litigation

A cross-partisan group of organizations, former members of Congress and academics have filed amicus briefs supporting the New Jersey Moderate Party’s important lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of the state’s statutory prohibition on fusion voting, the practice of a candidate being cross-nominated on the ballot by more than one party.

The amicus briefs (also known as “friend of the court” briefs), filed on Monday, come from:

  • Pro-democracy groups like the Brennan Center for Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey.
  • Right-of-center groups like the Rainey Center for Public Policy and the Cato Institute, joined by former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman (R).
  • A bipartisan group of former members of Congress, including former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-MO), Bruce Braley (D-IA), Patrick Murphy (D-PA), John Schwarz (R-MI), and David Trott (R-MI).
  • A diverse array of historians, political scientists and legal scholars from Princeton, Rutgers and other institutions.

Rick Wolfe, a founder of the NJ Moderate Party and also a party to the case, said: “We welcome this battery of support from the center, right and left. It signals the importance of this case and the core democratic issues at stake.”

Wolfe added, “The New Jersey Moderate Party wants to reverse the trend of hyper-polarization and the danger it poses to our country. Our goal is to bring both of the major political parties closer to the center. To achieve this objective, we need to identify, nominate, support and help elect viable moderate candidates who will strive to protect the basic foundations of our democracy and are willing to work collegially and respectfully with people of different viewpoints, to achieve sensible solutions to the major issues facing our country. Current New Jersey law bars us from exercising our constitutional rights to do that. We are confident the courts will right that wrong and let us restore civility and collaboration to the political process, and protect the principles of democracy upon which our country was founded.”

The legal action was brought by the Moderate Party of New Jersey, Wolfe and two other moderate voters – all current or former Republicans. In 2022, the Moderate Party sought to nominate Tom Malinowksi as its candidate for Congress. The NJ Secretary of State denied the nominating petitions under the state’s anti-fusion laws because Malinowski was the nominee of the Democratic Party. In response, the Moderate Party and these voters sued the NJ Secretary of State, asking the court to recognize the unconstitutionality of the Secretary’s decision under New Jersey’s expansive constitutional protections.

The case has already drawn in political heavyweights. Former Governor Whitman (R) and former U.S. Senator Robert Torricelli (D) teamed up in an op-ed to support the New Jersey Moderate Party’s effort to re-legalize fusion voting in the Garden State: “Bringing back fusion would strengthen the center of American politics. Otherwise we’re trapped in a badly-designed game that is now driving our country towards a cliff.” 

Earlier this year, the New Jersey State Republican Party intervened in the case, trying to prevent the Moderate Party from nominating its preferred candidates. The Appellate Division rejected motions filed by the State Attorney General and the State Republican Party in April to dismiss the case. 

The case is now fully briefed, because in addition to the amicus briefs, the reply briefs filed on behalf of the Moderate Party and the three voters supporting these efforts were also filed yesterday.

The principal and amicus briefs can be viewed on Protect Democracy’s website at:

Attorneys Farbod Faraji and Beau Tremitiere of Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan, pro-democracy, anti-authoritarianism group, represent the two other individual voters in the case. Attorneys Flavio Komuves, Brett M. Pugach and Steven P. Weissman of Weissman & Mintz LLC, Yael Bromberg of Bromberg Law LLC, Professor Joel Rogers of the University of Wisconsin Law School, and Professor Nate Ela of the University of Cincinnati College of Law represent the Moderate Party and Wolfe.

The full list of parties filing amicus briefs in support of the Moderate Party’s position follows:

  • The Rainey Center, the Cato Institute and the. Hon. Christine Todd Whitman represented by Anne M. Collart of Gibbons PC and Jay P. Lefkowitz and Victoria J. Ryan of Kirkland & Ellis LLP


  • Former members of Congress the Hon. Bruce Braley, Hon. Richard Gephardt, the Hon. Patrick J. Murphy, the Hon. John J. Schwarz and the Hon. David A. Trott represented by Ryan Chabot, Matthew Wollin and Brittany Blueitt Amadi of Wlimer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP


  • American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey Foundation represented by Liza F. Weisberg, Jeanne LoCicero, Professor Robert F. Williams and Professor Ronald K. Chen


  • The Brennan Center represented by David J. Fioccola of Morrison & Foerster LLP


  • New Jersey Libertarian Party represented by CJ Griffin of Pashman Stein Walder Hayden, P.C.


  • Professor Tabatha Abu El-Haj represented by Vincent C. Cirilli of Saiber LLC and Jonathan M. Moses and Michael L. Thomas of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz


  • Professors Seth Masket, Nolan McCarty and Hans Noel represented by Zachary D. Wellbrock of Anselmi & Carvelli, LLP


  • Professors Peter Argersinger, Dale Baum, Corey Brooks, Lisa Disch, Colin Gordon, Ira Katznelson, Michael Kazin and J. Morgan Kousser represented by Eric S. Aronson and Jerry H. Goldfeder of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP