The provision was part of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2020 — a law that the Federal Election Commission said was needed to prevent finance corruption connected with campaigns for federal office.
“We greet the assertion of an anti-corruption interest here with a measure of skepticism, for the loan-repayment limitation is yet another in a long line of ‘prophylaxis-upon-prophylaxis approach[es]’ to regulating campaign finance,” Roberts wrote.
“Individual contributions to candidates for federal office, including those made after the candidate has won the election, are already regulated in order to prevent corruption or its appearance.”
Progressive Justice Elena Kagan, writing in dissent, said the court has essentially approved the misuse of campaign funds before and after the fact.
“The theory of the decision (unlike of the statute) is hard to fathom,” Kagan wrote. “The majority says that [the provision] violates the candidate’s First Amendment rights by interfering with his ability to ‘self-fund’ his campaign. But the candidate can in fact self-fund all he likes. The law impedes only his ability to use other people’s money to finance his campaign — much as standard (and permissible) contribution limits do.”
The decision for Cruz was the first made after the May 3 leak of an opinion that indicates the court is planning to overturn the landmark abortion decision in Roe vs. Wade. The court this term has heard dozens of cases that are still unresolved, including the Mississippi abortion case that is asking the court to strike down Roe vs. Wade. They are expected before the court’s term ends in June.
The Supreme Court has been chipping away at the campaign finance law for years, including a decision in 2010 that allowed corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts to finance candidates’ campaigns.