The future of President Joe Biden’s initiative to cancel a significant portion of federal student debt, which would benefit millions of Americans, is currently under the scrutiny of the Supreme Court. If permitted, the plan would erase $10,000 or $20,000 of student loans for each of those who qualify.
However, lower federal courts blocked the proposal following two legal challenges last year. In response, the administration appealed to the Supreme Court to review the case, and the court arranged a hearing for February 28.
By June, the Supreme Court will deliver a final verdict on the matter. This will determine if the Biden administration can proceed with its student loan forgiveness plan. Those burdened with student loan debt and waiting for relief will feel the far-reaching consequences of this decision.
The Supreme Court Hearing
Higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz praised Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar’s representation of the Biden administration during the hearing. Prelogar’s preparation, poise, and power in front of the nine justices were reportedly commendable. Kantrowitz believes that the Biden administration is now more likely to win the cases.
However, the attorneys who represented the plaintiffs opposing the program did not do as well. Kantrowitz likened the difference in performance to that of a star quarterback versus two tiddlywinks players.
The Supreme Court considered two legal challenges against President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan during the hearing. Six GOP-led states brought one lawsuit, while the conservative group Job Creators Network Foundation backed the other. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar argued in favor of the legality of the president’s plan, which aimed to prevent borrower distress during national emergencies. She also contended that plaintiffs had not demonstrated any harm caused by the policy. This is a prerequisite to establishing legal standing.
The Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness plan uses the Heroes Act of 2003. The act allows the Secretary of Education to modify student loan programs during national emergencies. Some critics feel that the policy goes beyond the act’s intended limits. The policy aims to cancel billions of dollars in student debt for millions of Americans. The critics argue that the scope of the program is too broad.
Justice Clarence Thomas questioned the plan during the hearing. She expressed skepticism about how the student loan forgiveness plan fits within the normal understanding of “modifying” student loan programs. Prelogar responded that the plan was intended to prevent borrowers from suffering financially due to their loans during a crisis.
Prelogar pointed out that the pandemic has caused financial harm to student loan borrowers. The debt cancellation plan, according to her, is essential to prevent a rise in delinquencies and defaults. Justice Elena Kagan agreed, stating that the Heroes Act is an emergency provision. It gives the secretary of education the power to discharge student loans in response to a crisis.
The hearing focused on the legality of Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan during national emergencies. The debate centers on whether it’s a legitimate exercise of executive power.
During the hearing, the justices’ divergent views on the purpose of the Heroes Act were revealed, with Justice Thomas expressing doubt that the Act authorized extensive student debt forgiveness. Justice Kagan believes that the Act provides the education secretary with the flexibility to address emergencies.
The Supreme Court’s decision could affect millions of Americans struggling with student loan debt. The Biden administration believes that student loan forgiveness is vital for economic recovery. The plan aims to help those who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
The hearing highlights the debate over the federal government’s role in addressing the student loan crisis. It also emphasizes the broader issue of income inequality in the United States.