Loan Scheme Will Be Heard by the Supreme Court: Thursday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear oral arguments about President Joe Biden’s program to forgive student loans. This is a big step toward ending a legal battle that has been going on for months over whether the administration went beyond its authority when it decided to wipe out the debt of tens of millions of Americans.
The Supreme Court Will Consider a Student Loan Plan
On Thursday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear oral arguments regarding President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program, a key step toward settling a months-long legal struggle over whether the administration exceeded its power in forgiving tens of millions of Americans’ debt.
The high court paused the program in short order. Biden cannot erase loans until the Supreme Court determines next year. The court scheduled legal arguments for February. Six conservative states—Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Carolina—told the Supreme Court that Biden overstepped his legal authority and violated the constitutional concept of separation of powers by starting a loan forgiveness program that would affect 40 million Americans.
The HEROES Act, passed after 9/11, authorized Biden’s debt reduction plan. The administration claims the statute authorizes student loan forgiveness during military operations or national crises. The Department of Education claims the statute provides loan forgiveness for COVID-19-afflicted Americans.
The Biden administration has paused student loan payments until June 30, 2023, despite the court’s refusal to temporarily restore the program. The Supreme Court’s emergency docket determined the Biden administration’s appeal in days or weeks. The high court moved the dispute to its merits docket by hearing oral arguments. It hears big cases that way.
That takes longer. Both parties will submit new written arguments. Then the court will schedule and hear the arguments during its February sitting, which lasts through early March. Then the justices will write opinions. Though this case may go faster, the court took little under four months to produce decisions in the term that concluded in June.
Late June is the Supreme Court’s term finish. In October, a Missouri federal court ruled that the states lacked standing to sue to halt the program. “The current plaintiffs are unable to proceed,” the trial court said. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit in St. Louis granted the state’s motion to suspend the program.
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The states’ loan forgiveness case is the Supreme Court’s third. On Oct. 20, Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett refused a Wisconsin taxpayer group’s emergency appeal. Barrett refused the program’s ban without explanation, as is typical in the emergency docket.
Our student debt relief program is necessary to help 40M eligible Americans struggling under the burden of student loan debt recover from the pandemic.
That’s 40M borrowers who chased the American dream through higher education. I look forward to SCOTUS hearing our case.
— Secretary Miguel Cardona (@SecCardona) December 2, 2022
She rejected another programming challenge on November 4. A conservative legal association filed an emergency appeal for two debtors entitled to “automatic” cancellation. The claimants claimed “extra tax liability under state law” from automatic debt cancellation.
However, the court’s procedural rejections offer little insight into the lending program’s constitutionality. The high court’s 6-3 conservative majority has been wary of presidential administrations’ attempts to enact broad measures without congressional approval. In January, the Supreme Court blocked Biden’s big employer COVID-19 vaccine-or-testing mandate. In June, the high court rejected an EPA power plant emissions regulation. Similar reasons prevented Biden’s eviction moratorium last year.
Conservatives had campaigned for years to reduce the “administrative state.” They say federal agencies shouldn’t act without legislative consent. In June, the Supreme Court upheld the “major questions doctrine” in a climate change lawsuit.
On Thursday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted that “the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case on our student debt reduction proposal for middle and working-class students this February” was welcomed. Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson also applauded the Supreme Court’s decision. “The president’s proposal to cancel student loans for most borrowers goes much beyond his statutory power,” Peterson stated. “We oppose the president’s political use of student loans before an election.”