Supreme Court sides with Ted Cruz in campaign finance case

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Topline

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in a campaign finance case over how campaigns can repay candidate loans, in a 6-3 decision that critics say could facilitating the corruption of political candidates.

Highlights

Cruz sued the Federal Election Commission over a rule that limits how political campaigns can repay candidates for loans they make to their own campaign, allowing them to repay up to $250,000 in loans at any time, and more than that only if they are repaid on time. 20 days after the elections.

Cruz loaned his campaign $260,000 just before the 2018 election and $10,000 couldn’t be repaid, so Cruz filed a lawsuit challenging the underlying settlement, arguing that he violated his First Amendment rights.

The court ruled that limiting loan repayment ‘burdens grassroots political discourse without proper justification’, saying that if politicians cannot be fully repaid by their campaigns, it will deter them from lending money in the first place. .

The Biden administration had argued that Cruz lacked standing to bring the case because his campaign deliberately did not repay the entire loan in time for him to file a lawsuit, but the court ruled that the fact that Cruz’s issue was “voluntarily engaged”. ” should not prevent him from being able to sue.

The judges also struck down the government’s argument that regulations help prevent corruption and ‘quid pro quo’ agreements in which a candidate is bribed, saying there was not enough evidence to support this. .

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the court’s majority opinion, and the decision was split along ideological lines, with the six conservative-leaning justices ruling in favor of Cruz while the three liberal justices dissented.

Chief Spokesperson

In her dissent, Judge Elena Kagan said the ruling “green light… squalid deals” and “corrupt government” by facilitating candidate bribery, exposing the possibility that candidates lending money to their campaign could lead to a “gaping” hole. into their own personal bank accounts, making them more willing to accept bribes and matching deals from donors to ensure they get their money back. “The politician is happy; donors are happy,” Kagan wrote. “The only loser is the public.

Key context

Cruz originally filed her lawsuit in 2019, and a district court ruled in her favor before the federal government appealed the case to the Supreme Court. The Texas senator’s 2018 Senate race against challenger Beto O’Rourke was the most expensive Senate race in U.S. history at the time, Chief Justice John Roberts noted in his ruling for the tribunal. The regulations at issue in the case were part of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, also known as the McCain-Feingold Act, which imposed restrictions on political donations to prevent corruption. The court previously struck down other provisions of this law with McCutcheon v. FEC in 2014, which abolished certain limits on political donations by individuals; Citizens United v. FEC in 2010, which ruled that corporations and other groups should not be subject to restrictions on campaign spending; and Davis v. FEC, which struck down a “millionaire’s amendment” that allowed candidates to face wealthy challengers who self-fund their campaigns to raise additional funds.

Further reading

Government faces skeptical bench to defend campaign finance law challenged by Ted Cruz (SCOTUSblog)

Opinion: Ted Cruz Supreme Court case could facilitate corruption of politicians (NBC News)

Ted Cruz at the heart of a case that could legalize quid pro quo campaign contributions (Courthouse News Service)

The Supreme Court takes up a case, brought by Ted Cruz, which could legalize corruption (Vox)

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