Political speech lies at the heart of the First Amendment. Candidates for office have the constitutional right to raise funds to express their viewpoints, run campaigns, and associate with their supporters. However, leaving this flow of money unchecked creates a risk that candidates will sell the promise of political favors for increased monetary support from voters. Congress passed Section 304 of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act to prevent the risk of quid pro quo corruption, which is heightened when donors contribute money to candidates after the election for the sole purpose of retiring the candidates’ personal loans. Section 304 restricted how and when campaigns could use postelection contributions to repay candidates’ loans. Until recently, the United States Supreme Court used an established First Amendment framework to address campaign contribution and expenditure limits. Under this framework, the Court typically upheld contribution regulations under heightened scrutiny and invalidated expenditure regulations under strict scrutiny. However, the Court fundamentally altered this framework in Federal Election Commission v. Ted Cruz for Senate when it held that Section 304 was an unconstitutional infringement on First Amendment rights. FEC v. Cruz represents a sharp departure from existing precedent toward a new era of judicial skepticism of all campaign finance regulations. This Note examines FEC v. Cruz and the unprecedented legal analysis the Court used to hold Section 304 unconstitutional. This Note then discusses the specific implications of this decision on the Court’s First Amendment campaign finance jurisprudence and on the integrity of this nation’s electoral system.
Federal Election Commission v. Ted Cruz for Senate: How the Supreme Court Is Clearing the Way for Corruption in Politics,
Loy. U. Chi. L. J.
Available at: https://lawecommons.luc.edu/luclj/vol54/iss3/8