Imagine a successful small business owner who wants to run for Congress. To start his campaign, he can lend it some money. When the fundraising takes place, it can pay him back. But the law says that donations coming in after Election Day can only pay off $250,000 owed to the candidate. If the entrepreneur lends his campaign more than that amount, he is taking a real financial risk.
That held true until Monday, when the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in FEC v. Cruz that the reimbursement limit, passed as part of the McCain-Feingold mess in 2002, was unconstitutional. Senator Ted Cruz advanced his 2018 campaign $260,000, with only $10,000 remaining after Election Day. As Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the Court’s majority, this restriction “prevents candidates from borrowing money for their campaigns in the first place, burdening the core speech.”
It’s not just a theoretical worry: More than 90% of campaign debt is in candidate loans, according to the Federal Election Commission. Since 2002, Chief Justice Roberts said, “the proportion of Senate candidates taking out loans in the amount of exactly $250,000 has increased tenfold,” which shows that people are trying to stay afloat. limit. Political competition is in the public interest, and the Minister added that self-funding is “particularly important for new candidates and challengers.”
Justice Elena Kagan, dissenting writer for the three liberal factions of the Court, defends the value of the rule of law. “Political contributions that will create a candidate’s pocketbook, made after he has been elected to office, pose a particular risk of corruption,” she said. “Candidate has more than usual interest in earning money (to supplement his or her personal finances), and is now in a position to give something back.” She also argued that the repayment limit did not affect Mr. Cruz’s ability to generate capital on his own, but only his chance of getting money back from donors.
However, Chief Justice Roberts replied that the government “couldn’t determine a case.” quid pro quo corruption in this context. “Personal donations are “capped at $2,900 per election” and significant amounts are publicly reported. The president quoted incumbent Senators, who initially debated the return limit, saying highly meaningful things like: “I want a level playing field so I can keep playing.” shadow.”
Justice Kagan’s views on perceived corruption in politics are broad. She cites a YouGov poll, commissioned by the government, in which 81 percent of Americans said they believe post-election donors are likely to be rewarded with political favors. Okay, but does the public feel the same way about regular donors before the election? The survey did not ask.
The Chief’s comments are a logical extension of many of the Court’s precedents on free speech and campaign finance. But the Court libertarians can’t seem to admit this is a matter of determined stare. It is clear that they are willing to overturn those precedents as soon as the opportunity arises, which we hope for the sake of freedom of political speech is far from happening.
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Appears May 17, 2022, print.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/ted-cruz-the-supreme-court-and-10-000-federal-election-commission-campaign-debt-11652732706 Ted Cruz, the Supreme Court and $10,000