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Ted Cruz wins Supreme Court case difficult campaign reimbursement restriction

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Texas Senator Ted Cruz campaigns with Pennylvania Senate hopeful Dave McCormick, here he pretends to carry a peanut while making a joke about wearing masks to guard against Covid-19.

Aimee Dilger | Lightrocket | Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in his challenge of a campaign finance law limiting using post-election funds to reimburse candidates who lend large sums to their very own campaigns.

The court in a 6-3 decision ruled that the regulation in query “burdens core political speech without proper justification.” The bulk was also unconvinced by the Biden administration’s argument that the regulation helps avoid the looks of political corruption in government.

The choice split the conservative-majority court along ideological lines, with liberal justices arguing in dissent.

“The speculation of the laws is simple to know. Political contributions that can line a candidate’s own pockets, given after his election to office, pose a special danger of corruption,” read the dissent from Justice Elena Kagan.

Without the rule, “The politician is glad; the donors are glad. The one loser is the general public. It inevitably suffers from government corruption,” wrote Kagan, who was joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.

The regulation, from a bit of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, barred campaigns from using greater than $250,000 in post-election funds to repay a candidate’s loans to fund those campaigns. Any amount above that may only be repaid inside a 20-day window after the election.

Cruz had loaned $260,000 to his successful 2018 campaign against Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke. Twenty days after that election, $10,000 of Cruz’s personal loan remained unpaid.

The senator, who had purposefully gone above the quarter-million-dollar limit to prompt a legal challenge against the regulation, argued that the 20-year-old rule violated his free speech rights. A federal district court sided with Cruz, ruling that the law discourages “the private financing of campaign speech.”

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in Monday’s majority opinion that the law raises the chance that some candidates may not recoup their loans after an election, which “in turn may deter some candidates from loaning money to their campaigns after they otherwise would, reducing the quantity of political speech.”

“By inhibiting a candidate from using this critical source of campaign funding, [the regulation] raises a barrier to entry—thus abridging political speech,” Roberts wrote.

That is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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