Supreme Court to review whether Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan is legal


The Supreme Court announced Thursday that it will expedite a review of the legality of President Biden’s plan to forgive federal student loan debt for millions of borrowers, and will hold oral arguments in February.

Lower courts suspended the program, which the administration said was justified by pandemic-amplified reimbursement issues. The Biden administration has asked judges to either allow him to move forward while legal challenges continue or to take up the matter themselves. He recently extended the pause on repayment of the federal loan, which was due to expire at the end of the year, to give the High Court time to act.

The plan will remain on hold as the court deferred action on the administration’s request to restore it.

The Biden plan would forgive up to $20,000 in federal student loan debt for more than 40 million borrowers. The United States Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit had granted a request by a coalition of six Republican-led states to impose a nationwide injunction on the plan amid ongoing litigation.

In a separate case, a Texas federal judge ruled on November 10 the forgiveness plan illicit. The United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit on Wednesday denied a Justice Department request to stay that ruling while the court considers the merits of the administration’s appeal.

Another appeals court rejects bid to revive Biden’s student loan relief

Legal battles have left millions of student borrowers in limbo. More than half of those eligible had applied for the pardon scheme before it was halted by the courts, with the Department for Education approving some 16 million applications. Despite the suspension of the program, the ministry recently informed people that their applications had been approved, assuring them that the administration would pay off the debt if it won in court.

The loan relief plan would forgive up to $10,000 in federal student debt for borrowers earning up to $125,000 a year, or up to $250,000 for married couples. Those who have received Pell Grants are eligible for an additional $10,000 rebate.

The issue comes before a court skeptical of the administration’s power to impose pandemic-related relief without express congressional approval.

In 2021, the court revoked a national eviction moratorium imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that began under the Trump administration and was extended by Biden. In January of this year, he ended the administration’s vaccination or testing requirement for the nation’s largest employers, saying such a command was beyond the authority of the Security and Safety Administration. occupational health.

Republican attorneys general in Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas and South Carolina said it was another case of overreach.

“As President Biden publicly declares the end of the pandemic, the Secretary and the Department of Education are using COVID-19 to justify massive debt cancellation – an illegal attempt to erase over $400 billion of $1.6 trillion in federal student loan debt and eliminate any remaining loan balances for approximately 20 million out of 43 million borrowers,” the states said in their Supreme Court filing.

Solicitor General Elizabeth B. Prelogar said states do not have the legal standing to challenge the administration’s actions and that federal law gives the secretary of education broad authority to make changes to the curriculum. student loans. Both the Trump and Biden administrations have invoked the law to suspend loan repayments during the pandemic.

“Congress has authorized the Secretary of Education to respond to national emergencies by providing assistance to affected student borrowers,” Prelogar wrote in a court filing. “Without finding that the Secretary exceeded this express statutory authority, the Eighth Circuit issued a nationwide injunction restraining the Secretary from providing critical assistance to millions of Americans suffering from the lingering economic effects of a global pandemic.”

On Nov. 23, the Biden administration extended the student loan repayment pause into the new year. “It’s not fair to ask tens of millions of borrowers eligible for relief to resume paying off their student debt while the courts consider the lawsuit,” Biden said.

Payments must now resume 60 days after the Ministry of Education is allowed to implement the program or the dispute is resolved. If this has not happened by June 30, payments will resume 60 days later or September 1, depending on the department.

The Biden administration initially encouraged borrowers to apply for debt relief by November 15, when the moratorium was due to end on December 31, in hopes that their applications would be processed before the pause was lifted. This could have given the Department of Education enough time to recalculate borrowers’ monthly payments based on their new balances.

The vast majority of federal student loan borrowers have been spared monthly payments and accrued interest on their debt since Congress passed the Pandemic Relief Care Act in March 2020. The Trump administration extended the break twice, while Biden did it six times.

Unions, civil rights groups and student debt activists had pressured Biden to refrain from collecting loan repayments as the debt relief program is in legal limbo . Many of those same groups have filed briefs urging the Supreme Court to reinstate the program.

“The Biden administration’s student debt relief plan is a lifeline for millions of educators, nurses, public employees and other workers – people who have carried us through the pandemic and that keep our economy running every day,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, who filed a brief in support of the plan. “But obstructionist ideologues play politics with their future and abuse the legal system, just to stop progress and worse to deny President Biden an achievement that would help millions.”

The case is Biden v. Nebraska.


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