(Washington, D.C.) — The Supreme Court’s conservative majority on Monday sided with Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas in his challenge to a provision of federal campaign finance law, in a ruling that a dissenting justice said runs the risk of causing “further disrepute” to American politics.
In a decision of 6-3, the justices agreed that this obscure part of the law was in violation the Constitution. This decision is coming at a time when campaigning intensifies for 2022 midterm elections.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority that the provision “burdens core political speech without proper justification.”
The Biden administration had defended the provision as an anti-corruption measure, and in a dissent Justice Elena Kagan wrote that the majority, in striking it down, “greenlights all the sordid bargains Congress thought right to stop.” She said the decision “can only bring this country’s political system into further disrepute.”
This case could be crucial for candidates running for federal office that need large loans for their campaigns. The administration also stated that the vast majority of such loans were for less than $250,000. Therefore, Cruz’s challenged provision is not applicable.
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It involves an article from the 2002 Bipartisan campaign Reform Act. It states that, if a candidate loans his/her campaign money before an electoral election, the campaign can’t repay him/her more than $250,000 with money raised after Election Day. These loans may still be paid back with the money received before the election.
Cruz claimed that candidates should think twice before lending money to others because this significantly increases the chance that a candidate’s loan won’t be fully repaid. An earlier court had ruled that the provision was invalid.
Cruz, who was a Senator since 2013 but lost his bid for President in 2016, borrowed his campaign $260,000 in 2018 to contest the law.
The government claims that candidates for Senate have made 588 loans in their five previous election cycles, almost 80% under $250,000. The House of Representatives had 3,444 loans made by candidates, almost 90 percent of which were under $250,000.
Federal Election Commission v. Ted Cruz, Senate, 21-12.
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