Supreme Court takes on Biden’s student loan plan

Student loan holders participate in a protest outside the White House staff entrance to demand that President Biden forgive student loan debt.

Countess Jemal | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

The fate of the Biden administration’s sweeping student loan forgiveness plan now rests with the Supreme Court.

This may be bad news for borrowers, say legal and higher education experts.

“The court’s conservatives have been very aggressive in reversing the decisions of Congress and the president,” said Gregory Caldeira, a political science professor at Ohio State University. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the court invalidated the decree.”

Higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz agreed.

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“The United States Supreme Court is more likely than not to block the presidential plan to forgive student loans,” Kantrowitz said.

The highest court moved to take up the case after the US Department of Justice filed an emergency motion asking judges to lift the injunction on its pardon plan that had been issued by the US Court of Appeals. United States for the Eighth Circuit, in St. Louis, at the request of six GOP-led states.

The justices, who will decide whether or not the president’s debt relief policy harms plaintiffs or constitutes an excess of executive authority, said they will hear oral arguments in February.

Ruling will ‘for now’ fix student loan issues

In August, Biden announced that the US Department of Education would provide student loan forgiveness of up to $20,000 to tens of millions of Americans. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates the plan will cost about $400 billion.

Long before the president acted, Republicans had criticized student loan forgiveness as a handout to wealthy graduates. They also argued that the president lacked the authority to write off consumer debt himself without congressional authorization.

Unsurprisingly, legal challenges poured in. At least six lawsuits have been filed against the presidential plan.

President Biden announces student debt relief plan

Why the Supreme Court can block pardons

For a number of reasons, Urman predicts the Supreme Court will rule against Biden. He said Tory judges felt government agencies wielded too much authority and “violated the separation of powers”. Moreover, he said, the concept of loan forgiveness seems to run counter to their notions of individual responsibility.

Such a politically fueled decision, however, is likely to further damage the public’s perception of the Supreme Court, Urman said.

“Undoing the pardon will add to growing skepticism that conservative justices vote conservative and liberal justices vote liberal,” Urman said. Only 25% of Americans trust the highest court, according to a Gallup poll found this summer.

Cancellation of the pardon will add to growing skepticism that Tory justices are voting Conservative.

And Ourman

law professor at Northeastern University

If the president’s plan is blocked, he added, it will be “another example, along with abortion and guns, of the court taking positions that a majority of Americans oppose.” .

In a poll by The Economist and YouGov in August, 51% of respondents said they supported Biden’s loan relief plan. About 40% oppose the initiative.

“In the past, the Supreme Court generally ruled in line with public opinion,” Urman said.

Arguments on the limit of presidential power

Beyond the popularity of its debt relief plan, the Biden administration insists it is acting within the law, pointing out that the Heroes Act of 2003 grants the Secretary of State education the power to override student loan regulations in the event of a national emergency. The United States has been operating under an emergency declaration since March 2020.

However, lawyers for GOP-led states argue that the administration should not be able to use the public health crisis to issue such sweeping policy.

“The administration is once again invoking the COVID-19 pandemic to assert its power far beyond anything Congress could have conceived of,” the attorneys wrote in a brief to the justices, pointing out that the highest court had previously halted the nationwide ban on evictions imposed by the White House.

Yet a group of borrower advocacy groups, in a recent brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, said canceling student debt was essential to the country’s recovery from the pandemic.

The public health crisis has exacerbated financial hardship for “borrowers who have been, for decades, at the mercy of a broken student loan system,” they wrote.

Without cancellation, they warned, “working and middle class borrowers are at substantial risk of default.”

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