Columnist reveals why Mitch McConnell's plea to the Supreme Court betrays his own supposed principles
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo by Gage Skidmore.)

A new Washington Post op-ed is slamming Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) recent plea to the U.S. Supreme Court. McConnell's plea is in reference to the case regarding Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-Texas) previous challenge of a federal election law that prohibits political candidates from raising more than $250,000 after an election to reimburse themselves for funds they loaned to their own campaigns.

Ruth Marcus explained that the point behind the law is to limit corruption, because "post-election fundraising is less about engaging in political speech and more about currying political favor."

According to McConnell, the court should consider using Cruz's case to "not simply to strike down the loan repayment provision but also to junk what is left of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA)."

“This Court’s decisions over the past decade have rendered BCRA the Humpty Dumpty of campaign-finance law, a patchwork of provisions that Congress never would have approved standing alone and that can never be put back together again,” the brief asserts. “There is no reason to let BCRA limp along, no need for further piecemeal surgery by this Court: the Court should strike the entire statute.”

Arguing that it is time to abolish the rules, McConnell also insisted, “It is time to put BCRA out to pasture.”

Marcus argued that this argument is really unusual — and a stark break with McConnell's supposed reverence for conservative jurisprudence.

"This is not a normal legal argument," Marcus wrote. "It’s certainly not a conservative one. The Constitution provides that courts are to rule on the cases or controversies before them. Courts aren’t supposed to lunge out for issues that aren’t presented."

"The case, to be argued Jan. 19, offers a particularly vivid illustration of the conservative mania to undo even the most inoffensive campaign finance restrictions. But the McConnell brief, authored by former Trump White House counsel Donald McGahn and former Trump administration solicitor general Noel Francisco, is notable for a different and more alarming reason: There is, it seems, no argument too extreme for this crowd in their effort to reshape the law to their liking."

In response to Cruz's argument insisting the law is a violation of the First Amendment, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar defended the provision.

“Senator Cruz’s injury is self-inflicted, since he and his campaign deliberately arranged their transactions so as to create a legal barrier to full repayment of the loan,” Prelogar told the court. Under any circumstance, Prelogar said, “the loan-repayment limit imposes at most a modest burden on the right to make and accept contributions.”