U.S. Supreme Court backs Ted Cruz and drops campaign finance restriction
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday further undermined campaign finance restrictions, striking down as a free speech violation part of a 2002 bipartisan law challenged by Republican Senator Ted Cruz that officials federal government had presented as an anti-corruption guarantee. The justices, in a 6-3 decision, found that a $250,000 cap on the amount of money political candidates can be reimbursed after an election for personal loans to their own campaigns violated the US Constitution’s First Amendment guarantee of free speech by unjustifiably weighing on political expression.
In the decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court’s conservative justices were in the majority and the liberal justices dissented. Roberts wrote that the law in question “burdens grassroots political discourse without proper justification”. It was the latest in a series of rulings in which the conservative-majority court overturned campaign finance restrictions, citing free speech concerns.
Roberts wrote that the government failed to show that the measure “served a permissible anti-corruption purpose, rather than the impermissible purpose of simply limiting the amount of money in politics.” In a searing dissent, liberal Justice Elena Kagan said the court effectively aids and abets corruption in Washington by allowing donors to contribute to a campaign after an election in a way that personally benefits the candidate.
“By striking down the law today, the court is giving the go-ahead to whatever sordid business Congress has seen fit to shut down,” Kagan wrote. Politicians will know these payments will flow directly to them through the campaign, Kagan added, and donors are hoping for something in return.
“The politician is happy, the donors are happy. The only loser is the public. They inevitably suffer from government corruption,” Kagan said. Cruz, first elected to represent Texas in the Senate in 2012, sued the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the agency that enforces election laws, after his successful 2018 re-election race against Democratic rival Beto O’ Rourke. Cruz had loaned his campaign organization $260,000 but was limited by law to a $250,000 repayment from his campaign.
A spokesperson for Cruz called the decision “a resounding victory for the First Amendment.” A spokesperson for the FEC declined to comment. Trevor Potter, president of the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan group that supports campaign finance laws, expressed disappointment with the ruling.
“Allowing candidates to solicit unlimited post-election contributions to repay their personal campaign loans and put donor money into their own pockets provides an obvious and lamentable opening for special interests to buy official favors and rig the political system by their favor,” Potter said. . Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration, acting on behalf of the FEC, had appealed the 2021 decision of a three-judge Washington-based panel unanimously striking down the provision on free speech grounds.
The provision at issue was part of a major campaign finance law that has already been whittled down by the Supreme Court, including in a landmark 2010 decision https://www.Reuters.com/article/us-usa- court-politics/landmark -a-supreme-court-ruling-allows-corporate-politicians-cash-idUSTRE60K3SK20100121 that allowed unlimited independent spending by corporations and unions during elections as freedom of expression protected by the Constitution. The Supreme Court struck down various provisions of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, often called the McCain-Feingold Act in recognition of its top Senate sponsors, John McCain and Russ Feingold.
Concluding that the limit was not justified to deter corruption, Roberts agreed with the arguments made by Cruz, saying that restrictions already exist on the amount of money individuals can donate during an election cycle, currently capped at 2 $900. Roberts added that the status quo has likely benefited incumbents over challengers, as new candidates often have to loan money to their campaigns and may have a harder time attracting donations. “This historic decision will help reinvigorate our democratic process by making it easier for challengers to take on and defeat career politicians,” the Cruz spokesperson said.
Cruz unsuccessfully sought his party’s presidential nomination in 2016, later becoming a prominent supporter of former President Donald Trump.
(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)