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Home News Supreme Court Denies Biden’s Plan for Student Loan Debt Handout

Supreme Court Denies Biden’s Plan for Student Loan Debt Handout

Supreme Court Denies Biden’s Plan for Student Loan Debt Handout

( – President Joe Biden’s plan to cancel student loans was overturned by the Supreme Court on Friday, stopping a $430 billion debt write-off that detractors claimed was an unlawful midterm election ploy by Biden.

As reported last year, “Biden announced his intention over the summer to forgive up to $20,000 in college debt for Americans making less than $125,000 a year.”

On social media, the President unveiled the specifics of his strategy, calling it a “campaign promise” to provide “working and middle-class families breathing room” concerning student loans.

The plan was criticized for attempting to circumvent Congress’s authority to regulate spending and debts, for giving elite college graduates priority over working-class Americans who opted out of attending college, and for punishing those who paid off their loans or made major choices that were more likely to result in finding rewarding careers.

A bipartisan bill that would have overturned President Biden’s student loan forgiveness scheme was vetoed earlier this month. Congress had expressed its unhappiness but could not collect the necessary votes to override his veto.

The Court examined two cases. In the first case, Department of Education v. Brown, the Court ruled that the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue because they could not demonstrate that Biden’s student debt relief had personally damaged them.

In that case, the plaintiffs were not qualified to get that relief. In contrast, the Court determined in Biden v. Nebraska that the State of Nebraska had established that Biden’s scheme would be detrimental to MOHELA, the state’s nonprofit supplier of student loans.

Biden attempted to convert temporary student loan deferment into complete student debt cancellation using the Department of Education’s emergency powers under the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act.

However, the Court determined that the cancellation amounted to a usurpation of Congress’s fiscal authority and went much further than the basic “waiver” that legislation envisioned.

Chief Justice John Roberts authored the majority judgment for the Court, and it was split 6-3 along well-known party lines, with all of the Republican-appointed judges voting against the program and all of the Democratic justices voting to uphold it.

Roberts cited Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the then-Speaker of the House, who asserted that Biden lacked the constitutional authority to unilaterally cancel student loan defaults in one notable paragraph (citations omitted):

“The sharp debates generated by the Secretary [of Education] ’s extraordinary program stand in stark contrast to the unanimity with which Congress passed the HEROES Act. The dissent asks us to “[i]magine asking the enacting Congress: Can the Secretary use his powers to give borrowers more relief when an emergency has inflicted greater harm?”…

The dissent “can’t believe” the answer would be no. … But imagine instead asking the enacting Congress a more pertinent question: “Can the Secretary use his powers to abolish $430 billion in student loans, completely canceling loan balances for 20 million borrowers, as a pandemic winds down to its end?” We can’t believe the answer would be yes.

Congress did not unanimously pass the HEROES Act with such power in mind. … As then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi explained:

“People think that the President of the United States has the power for debt forgiveness. He does not. He can postpone. He can delay. But he does not have that power.”

That has to be an act of Congress.” Press Conference, Office of the Speaker of the House (July 28, 2021).

All this leads us to conclude that “[t]he basic and consequential tradeoffs” inherent in a mass debt cancellation program “are ones that Congress would likely have intended for itself.”… In such circumstances, we have required the Secretary to “point to ‘clear congressional authorization’” to justify the challenged program. …

And as we have already shown, the HEROES Act provides no authorization for the Secretary’s plan even when examined using the ordinary tools of statutory interpretation—let alone “clear congressional authorization” for such a program.”

In her dissenting opinion, Justice Elena Kagan—the former dean of Harvard Law School, who is primarily to blame for the high student loan debts incurred by graduates—said that the Court had “exceed[ed] its proper, limited role in our Nation’s governance”—although the President had done just that.

In his own opinion, Robert responded to Sotomayor’s claim:

“It has become a troubling trend of some recent opinions to condemn the decisions with which they disagree as going beyond the proper duty of the judiciary….

Our interpretation may not agree with all rational minds, but at least three do. We do not misinterpret this blatantly sincere disagreement as being disparaging. Neither the public nor the media must get misled.

Any such misunderstanding would be detrimental to this organization and our nation.”

Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote a concurring opinion.

Department of Education v. Brown (U.S. Supreme Court Case No. 22-535) and Biden v. Nebraska (U.S. Supreme Court Case No. 22-506) are the two cases in question.

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