The U.S. Supreme Court dealt a major blow to President Joe Biden’s economic agenda Friday by ruling that he does not have the authority to unilaterally forgive federally subsidized student loans.
The proposed debt cancellation would have been one of the costliest executive actions in U.S. history. The court opposed that move in a 6-3 ruling.
Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, said, “The Secretary’s plan canceled roughly $430 billion of federal student loan balances, completely erasing the debts of 20 million borrowers and lowering the median amount owed by the other 23 million from $29,400 to $13,600.
“Six States sued, arguing that the HEROES Act does not authorize the loan cancellation plan. We agree.”
Roberts went on to use Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (R-Calif.) own words against Biden’s plan.
“Congress did not unanimously pass the HEROES Act with such power in mind. As then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi explained … ‘People think that the President of the United States has the power for debt forgiveness. He does not. He can postpone. He can delay. But he does not have that power. That has to be an act of Congress,’” Roberts wrote, quoting Pelosi.
The Court ruled unanimously in the case of Department of Education v. Brown that the two petitioners denied debt relief under the program did not have standing to sue. Meanwhile, the second case, Biden v. Nebraska, affirmed the right of the GOP states in the lawsuit to sue the Biden administration, allowing them to bring their argument before the court.
Student loan forgiveness has been a popular Democratic proposal in recent history, notably from Sen. Bernie Sanders (R-Vt.), who proposed clearing the slate of all $1.6 trillion in outstanding student loan debt when he ran for president in 2020.
Biden’s plan was chastised from the very start by Senate Republicans, who called the plan a publicity stunt and political gimmick.
“President Biden’s student loan socialism is a slap in the face to every family who sacrificed to save for college, every graduate who paid their debt, and every American who chose a certain career path or volunteered to serve in our Armed Forces in order to avoid taking on debt,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said. “This policy is astonishingly unfair.”
Sen. Katie Britt was among those Senate Republicans hailing the decision as a victory for “hard work and personal responsibility.”
Hard work and personal responsibility are at the heart of the American Dream. As we knew all along, the Biden Administration’s student loan debt transfer scheme was unfair, unjust, and unlawful. I was proud to join @SenateGOP colleagues on an amicus brief in this important case.
— Senator Katie Boyd Britt (@SenKatieBritt) June 30, 2023
Last year, the Department of Education’s online form granted approved applicants up to $10,000 in loan forgiveness, and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients. Roughly 26 million Americans filled out the form and 16 million were accepted prior to the plan’s termination by the Supreme Court on Friday.
Grayson Everett is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @Grayson270