Supreme Court strikes down Biden's multibillion dollar student loan forgiveness plan
Biden's administration had previously argued that the president maintained that authority under existing education statute.
In a landmark ruling with implications for the 2024 election, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 on Friday that the Biden administration does not have the authority to unilaterally cancel hundreds of billions in student loan debt.
The ruling was a major rebuke of President Joe Biden's political efforts to court young voters with large college debts, and sets a fresh battle ahead of the next presidential election. It also was the latest of several major court rulings that chided the administration for trying to impose regulatory powers that Congress did not give the executive branch.
The Biden Education Department had "no authorization for the Secretary’s plan when examined using the ordinary tools of statutory interpretation—let alone 'clear congressional authorization' for such a program," the majority opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts declared.
Student loan forgiveness was a political point that Biden ran on during his 2020 election campaign. The Supreme Court ruled that the White House does not have the authority to wipe out hundreds of billions of dollars in student loan debt unilaterally and without any congressional involvement.
The Biden administration had previously argued that the president maintained that authority under existing education statute.
Higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz stated that about 14 million people would have had their student debt eliminated entirely if the ruling had gone the opposite way, CNBC News reports.
The court considered two cases, one brought by state attorneys general and the other by two private borrowers represented by the small business group Job Creators Network.
The court ruled the states had standing while the borrowers did not. However, it was the JCN lawsuit that resulted in an injunction that stopped Biden from proceeding from canceling the debt until the justices ruled.
Alfredo Ortiz, the president of JCN, said Friday's decision saved American taxpayers a staggering expense and forces Congress to address the issue of rising costs inside universities and colleges.
"With this ruling, the Supreme Court has protected hardworking Americans who have paid back their student loans or never went to college from having to unfairly cover the college debt of others," Ortiz wrote on Fox News minutes after the decision was released.
"A student debt jubilee would have let colleges off the hook for their role in this crisis and given them a blank check to keep on raising costs, secure in the knowledge that the federal government will step in when debts get out of hand. Lawmakers can now begin to address the problem's root," he added.
Stung by the loss, Biden planned an announcement later Friday and officials were reportedly looking for workarounds from the ruling.