Republican attorneys general and business advocacy groups are exploring ways to sue the Biden administration over its recently announced plan to forgive $10,000 in federal student loan debt for most borrowers, hoping the justice system America packed with conservatives will reverse executive action and deny much-needed aid to an estimated 40 million people.
“Conservative jurists, and ultimately judges themselves, will be eager to shred the new curriculum.”
Shortly after President Joe Biden announced his debt cancellation plan, the Job Creators Network – a black money organization representing business groups and executives –declared that he “weighs his legal options to block President Biden’s illegal student loan bailout,” calling the move an “executive overreach.”
Americans for Prosperity, an organization founded by billionaire Charles Koch and his late brother David, also expressed outrage over the Biden administration’s plan, tears that “this shameless handout will only further increase the costs of education, encourage people to take out even bigger loans, and set a dangerous precedent that the government will come forward and wipe out their debt in the future”.
The key question frustrating right-wing groups and officials, however, is whether one party actually has standing to pursue the debt relief package, the product of years of sustained grassroots activism.
A widely quoted Virginia Law Review article published in April argues that essentially no one – not taxpayers, not former borrowers, not state governments, not loan servicers, not Congress – has standing to challenge student debt forgiveness in court. .
Ken Paxton, the Republican Texas attorney general and one of several GOP officials looking for ways to derail the debt relief plan, acknowledged the ongoing obstacle during an appearance on the right-wing channel. newsmax.
“I don’t think it’s constitutional,” Paxton said. “We need to find a way in the State of Texas to have standing, or we need individuals to sue who have damages as a result of this. Because, I think, it will be the most effective way to achieve what I clearly consider to be something the President cannot authorize.”
Echoing Paxton, Missouri, Attorney General Eric Schmitt Told Fox News Digital that he is “actively seeking legal options to end the Biden administration’s abuse of power.”
The White House has decided to base its legal case for Radical Student Debt Relief on the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students (HEROES) Act of 2003, which gives the Secretary of Education the power to override laws relating to college curricula assistance to students in the event of “war or other military operation or national emergency”, such as a global pandemic.
In a note released last week, the Justice Department says the HEROES Act “grants the Secretary of the Education Authority to reduce or eliminate the obligation to repay the principal balance of federal student loan debt, including understood class-wide in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, provided all other requirements of the law are met.”
Right-wing groups, GOP attorneys general and centrist think tanks such as Third Way have claims the administration’s legal justification is flawed, but Slateby Mark Joseph Stern argue that “Congress wanted the HEROES Act to apply quickly and broadly”.
“Both the Trump and Biden administrations have used this law to freeze student loan payments during the pandemic,” Stern noted Thursday. “Based on the plain language of the law alone, Biden’s plan is likely legal.”
However, Stern warned that “some key circuit courts and the Supreme Court seem to follow a permanent rule: when a majority wants to decide a case on the merits, they find a justification to grant standing; when that doesn’t is not the case, they do not. t.”
The said “major issues doctrine” is also a potential sticking point.
“The Biden administration should assume that conservative jurists, and ultimately the justices themselves, will be eager to shred the new agenda, and thus find that someone, somewhere has standing,” he wrote. “He should also consider his response when a Trump judge inevitably issues a nationwide injunction against debt forgiveness and conservatives on the Supreme Court uphold it. There are several paths to student debt relief, and even this partisan justice system cannot block them all.”
One such avenue, Stern suggests, is for the Biden administration to announce “that any borrower affected by the pandemic can apply for relief” if the Supreme Court rules that the education secretary “must identify a more specific category.” of borrowers whose ability to repay loans has been clearly harmed by the pandemic. »