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In an unsurprising move, the ultra-conservative U.S. Supreme Court ruled President Biden’s $430 billion student loan forgiveness plan is unconstutional.
In a 6-3 ruling, with the three liberal justices dissenting, SCOTUS ruled Biden’s plan to have Education Secretary Miguel Cardona cancel up to $20,000 for 43 million eligible Americans went beyond the scope of his authority.
“The Secretary asserts that the HEROES Act grants him the authority to cancel $430 billion of student loan principal. It does not. We hold today that the Act allows the Secretary to ‘waive or modify’ existing statutory or regulatory provisions applicable to financial assistance programs under the Education Act, not to rewrite that statute from the ground up,” Roberts wrote.
The move effectively prevents economic relief for an entire generation of young Americans struggling to support their families and new businesses in a high-inflation economy. Notably, the plan would’ve disproportionately impacted Black and Latino/e/x graduates who are more likely to require federal pell grants and other forms of assistance to attend hire education institutions.
Most Americans support student loan forgiveness
A strong majority of Americans (63%) support cancellation of up to $20,000 in student loan debt, according to a Marquette Law School poll conducted in May. Yet the Court’s decision to strike it down means Congress is the only entity that can take action.
The ruling in Biden v. Nebraska garnered a strong dissent from liberal Justice Elena Kagan.
“The statute, read as written, gives the Secretary broad authority to relieve a national emergency’s effect on borrowers’ ability to repay their student loans. The Secretary did no more than use that lawfully delegated authority. So the majority applies a rule specially crafted to kill significant regulatory action, by requiring Congress to delegate not just clearly but also microspecifically,” she wrote.
Biden had argued the pandemic emergency gave him the authority to bring economic relief to millions of student loan borrowers. A majority of the ultra-conservative court disagreed.
“The majority overrides the combined judgment of the Legislative and Executive Branches, with the consequence of eliminating loan forgiveness for 43 million Americans,” Justice Kagan wrote.