teamgreen02 2,201 Posted February 28 Share Posted February 28 This is going to get tossed 6-3, maybe even 7-2. https://www.reuters.com/legal/us-supreme-court-scrutinizes-biden-college-student-debt-relief-2023-02-28/ Quote WASHINGTON, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices on Tuesday signaled skepticism over the legality of President Joe Biden's plan to cancel $430 billion in student debt for about 40 million borrowers, with the fate of his policy that fulfilled a campaign promise hanging in the balance. The nine justices heard arguments in appeals by Biden's administration of two lower court rulings blocking the policy that he unveiled last August in legal challenges by six conservative-leaning states and two individual student loan borrowers opposed to the plan's eligibility requirements. Under the plan, the U.S. government would forgive up to $10,000 in federal student debt for Americans making under $125,000 who took out loans to pay for college and other post-secondary education and $20,000 for recipients of Pell grants awarded to students from lower-income families. U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, arguing on behalf of Biden's administration, faced skeptical questions from conservative justices including John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh about the legal underpinning of the policy and its fairness. Roberts, the chief justice, questioned whether the scale of the relief could be considered a mere modification of an existing student loan program, as allowed under the law the administration cited as authorizing it. "We're talking about half a trillion dollars and 43 million Americans. How does that fit under the normal understanding of 'modify'?" Roberts asked. The policy, intended to ease the financial burden on debt-saddled borrowers, faced scrutiny by the court under the so-called major questions doctrine. Its 6-3 conservative majority has employed this muscular judicial approach to invalidate major Biden policies deemed lacking clear congressional authorization. Liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor also noted the high-dollar amount at issue. "How do you deal with that?" Sotomayor asked Prelogar. "That seems to favor the argument that this is a major question." Questioned by Alito about whether a member of Congress would consider this policy a major question, Prelogar said, "Of course, we acknowledge that this is an economically significant action. But I think that can't possibly be the sole measure for triggering application of the major questions doctrine." Prelogar said that "national policies these days frequently do involve more substantial costs or trigger political controversy." Prelogar added that Biden's plan "is not an assertion of regulatory authority at all. This is the administration of a benefits program." A 2003 federal law called the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act, or HEROES Act, authorizes the U.S. education secretary to "waive or modify" student financial assistance during war or national emergencies." Many borrowers experienced financial strain during the COVID-19 pandemic, a declared public health emergency. Beginning in 2020, the administrations of President Donald Trump, a Republican, and Biden, a Democrat, paused federal student loan payments and halted interest from accruing, relying upon the HEROES Act. The program fulfilled Biden's 2020 campaign promise to cancel a portion of $1.6 trillion in federal student loan debt. Republicans called it an overreach of his authority. The states that challenged it were Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Carolina. The individual borrowers were Myra Brown and Alexander Taylor. Roberts told Prelogar the case reminded him of Trump's effort - blocked by the Supreme Court - to end a program that protects from deportation hundreds of thousands of immigrants, often called "Dreamers," who entered the United States illegally as children. "This is a case that presents extraordinarily serious, important issues about the role of Congress and about the role that we should exercise in scrutinizing that - significant enough that the major questions doctrine ought to be considered implicated?" Roberts asked. Kavanaugh said Congress, in the HEROES Act, did not specifically authorize loan cancellation or forgiveness and that Biden's administration pursued a "massive new program." "That seems problematic," Kavanaugh said. Hundreds of demonstrators including borrowers rallied in favor of Biden's relief plan outside the court. Biden wrote on Twitter, "The relief is critical to over 40 million Americans as they recover from the economic crisis caused by the pandemic. We're confident it's legal." Some Republicans have attacked Biden's plan as unfair because it benefits certain Americans - colleged-educated borrowers - and not other people. Roberts presented Prelogar with a hypothetical scenario involving one person who took out a loan to pay for college and another who borrowed to start a lawn care company. "We know statistically that the person with the college degree is going to do significantly financially better over the course of life than the person without. And then along comes the government and tells that person, 'You don't have to pay your loan,'" Roberts said. "Nobody's telling the person who was trying to set up the lawn service business that he doesn't have to pay his loan." Prelogar responded to such "fairness" concerns raised by conservative justices by saying that "you can make that critique of every prior" government relief to various Americans under the HEROES Act. The liberal justices raised doubts that the state challengers had the proper legal standing to bring their lawsuit based on the claim that Biden's plan would harm Missouri-based student loan servicer known as the Higher Education Loan Authority of the State of Missouri (MOHELA). They noted MOHELA did not itself bring the lawsuit. The court's rulings on the matter are due by the end of June. Quote Link to post Share on other sites
Join the conversation
You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.