What have the Supreme Court Justices said about Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness program?
President Biden campaigned on a platform of widespread debt relief for borrowers but his efforts have been blocked by legal challenges.
The Supreme Court has begun hearing arguments on the legality of President Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness plan, his flagship program to eliminate hundreds of billions of dollars in student debt.
Student loan repayments were first put on hold at the start of the pandemic in 2020 and are yet to resume, with Biden hoping to extend the moratorium until his Student Loan Forgiveness program goes live. But with Republican-led states launching legal challenges to the proposals his administration have been forced to take the issue to the Supreme Court.
Tuesday was the first day of oral arguments and it looks like the Court’s conservative majority are likely to side with the blocks imposed by GOP-appointed judges on lower courts.
What did Justices Roberts and Kavanaugh say about Student Loan Forgiveness?
The Supreme Court currently holds a 6-3 conservative majority and Chief Justice John Roberts took the lead on the opening day of arguments, grilling Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar on the legality of the program.
The total cost of Biden’s proposal is expected to be roughly $400 billion over the next 30 years and the Court appears unconvinced that the President is able to pass such a package without congressional approval.
“If you’re talking about this in the abstract,” Roberts said, “I think most casual observers would say if you’re going to give up that much ... money, if you’re going to affect the obligations of that many Americans on a subject that’s of great controversy, they would think that’s something for Congress to act on.”
The White House’s argument is based on a 2003 law enacted to provide financial relief in response to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. However the administration is testing the boundaries of that precedent with such far-reaching relief.
Fellow conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh said that the Biden administration’s reliance on “old law” seemed “problematic” in this instance, and warned that the Court should be weary of bowing to claims of executive privilege.
“Some of the biggest mistakes in the court’s history were deferring to assertions of executive emergency power,” Kavanaugh said. “Some of the finest moments in the court’s history were pushing back against presidential assertions of emergency power.”
When will the Supreme Court decide on Student Loan Forgiveness?
The hearing concluded on Tuesday but that is just the first stage in the Supreme Court’s consideration of the highly consequential case. In the coming days Justices will cast ‘tentative votes’, gauging their opening thoughts, at a private conference.
The Court has heard arguments on two separate lawsuits brought against Biden’s debt relief plan, but that does not necessarily mean borrowers will need to wait for two decisions. The Supreme Court could issue a ruling on both in a single decision, particularly considering the similarities between the two cases.
However even if they choose to issue a single ruling, it will take around three months for the process of draft opinions to be authored, distributed and amended within the Court. Typically, the Supreme Court delivers rulings on the biggest cases in late June.
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