Victory for Ted Cruz as Supreme Court Rebuffs Biden Administration, Strikes Down Campaign Spending Rule

In a 6-3 vote the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional a campaign finance rule regulating the repayment of loans by a candidate to his own campaign, handing a win on May 16 to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who challenged the Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulation.

The appeal to the Supreme Court was brought by the FEC after a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia unanimously ruled against the agency last year.

The Biden administration had argued that disallowing the rule would open the door to bribery in elections, but the high court found the restriction on candidates’ post-election use of political contributions to recover personal funds lent to the campaign ran afoul of First Amendment speech protections.

The decision in FEC v. Ted Cruz for Senate, written by Chief Justice Roberts, was joined by the five other conservative justices. Justice Elena Kagan wrote a dissenting opinion that was backed by Justice Stephen Breyer and Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

“The question,” Roberts wrote, “is whether this restriction violates the First Amendment rights of candidates and their campaigns to engage in political speech.”

“[T]here is no doubt that the law does burden First Amendment electoral speech, and any such law must at least be justified by a permissible interest,” he wrote.

“When the government restricts speech, the government bears the burden of proving the constitutionality of its actions,” Roberts wrote, quoting directly from the 2014 plurality opinion in McCutcheon v. FEC.

The government “is unable to identify a single case of quid pro quo corruption … even though most states do not impose a limit on the use of post-election contributions to repay candidate loans.”

The rule “burdens core political speech without proper justification.”

Kagan wrote that the Supreme Court, which in recent years has been weakening campaign finance restrictions, was making a mistake.

“In striking down the law today the court greenlights all the sordid bargains Congress thought right to stop … In allowing those payments to go forward unrestrained, today’s decision can only bring this country’s political system into further disrepute.”

Kagan embraced the bribery argument advanced by the Biden administration.

“Repaying a candidate’s loan after he has won election cannot serve the usual purposes of a contribution: The money comes too late to aid in any of his campaign activities. All the money does is enrich the candidate personally at a time when he can return the favor—by a vote, a contract, an appointment.

“It takes no political genius to see the heightened risk of corruption—the danger of ‘I’ll make you richer and you’ll make me richer’ arrangements between donors and officeholders.”

Reporting from The Epoch Times.