Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) won a victory from the Supreme Court Monday in his lawsuit challenging the federal election law that caps the amount any candidate can pay himself back after an election at $250,000.
The court ruled 6–3 that the law was unconstitutional, and ruled that loans of any amount can be paid back with campaign funds and contributions.
Cruz loaned his Senate campaign $260,000 in 2018 and admitted that the amount was set expressly to challenge the FEC law, which he believed made it easier for incumbents to be re-elected and harder for challengers who don’t have as much fundraising capacity.
The law also stated that money raised had to be used within 20 days of an election, which was also ruled unconstitutional.
“This limit on the use of post-election funds increases the risk that candidate loans over $250,000 will not be repaid in full, inhibiting candidates from making such loans in the first place,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the court’s opinion.
“[T]here is no doubt,” Roberts wrote further, “that the law does burden First Amendment electoral speech, and any such law must at least be justified by a permissible interest.”
Supporters of the law said that it fought corruption that could occur when candidates wanted to divert campaign funds for personal use after the election, but the court found that the government failed to show a “legitimate objective” for the rule.
The government, in arguing for the law, was not able to “identify a single case of quid pro quo corruption in this context,” Roberts further noted.
$100 million-plus campaign
Cruz’s Senate campaign was the most expensive one to date. His unsuccessful opponent, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, raised $80 million to try to unseat Cruz, and Cruz raised $37 million to defend his seat.
Cruz called O’Rourke the “number-one fundraiser in the country,” but said that much of his campaign cash came from California and other non-Texan donors who wanted to see the seat flip to Democrat and get Cruz out of the Senate.
O’Rourke went on to run for president briefly in 2019, but was also unsuccessful in that campaign.
Cruz has not commented on his victory yet, but will no doubt podcast about it soon on his popular podcast, Verdict with Ted Cruz.