Supreme Court to hear Ted Cruz campaign finance dispute

The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to review a legal challenge by Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCongress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight On The Money — Congress races to keep the lights on House sets up Senate shutdown showdown MORE (R-Texas) to federal limits on reimbursing candidates for personal loans made to their campaign.

The move comes after Cruz in June notched a victory in a lower federal court, prompting the Federal Election Commission’s (FEC) appeal to the Supreme Court.

At issue is a provision of federal election law that sets a $250,000 cap on the amount of post-election donation money that a campaign can use to repay a candidate’s personal loan.

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The dispute over the federal limit arose after Cruz put $260,000 of his own money into his 2018 reelection campaign and sued the FEC in April 2019 as he attempted to pay off his debt.

In June, a federal three-judge district court panel in Washington, D.C., sided with Cruz, striking down rules limiting how much money candidates can raise after an election to pay off loans.

In a 31-page ruling, the court found the repayment cap, instituted in the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, violated Cruz’s free speech rights.

“Because the government has failed to demonstrate that the loan-repayment limit serves an interest in preventing quid pro quo corruption, or that the limit is sufficiently tailored to serve this purpose, the loan repayment limit runs afoul of the First Amendment,” wrote Judge Neomi Rao, a Trump appointee to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The FEC appealed to the Supreme Court in July; the FEC declined comment on Thursday's development.

A spokesperson for Cruz did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The justices are expected to hear arguments in the case, FEC v. Ted Cruz for Senate, during the term that begins Monday, with a decision likely before July.