Republican-led states ask SCOTUS to uphold freeze on Biden student loan debt forgiveness

Republicans have argued that the plan would effectively prove an economic boon to individuals with the highest earning potential at the expense of low-income earners.

Updated: November 24, 2022 - 4:28pm

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A group of six Republican-led states have petitioned the Supreme Court to keep an injunction against the Biden administration's student debt cancellation in place.

President Joe Biden announced earlier this year that he would cancel up to $10,000 in student loan debt for those earning under $125,000 and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the plan would cost taxpayers up to $400 billion.

The plan has been met with legal challenges in several courts and several judges have imposed separate injunctions against the plan. Reports emerged earlier this week that the administration would take the matter to the nation's top judicial body.

Republicans have argued that the plan would effectively prove an economic boon to individuals with the highest earning potential at the expense of low-income earners.

In their filing, the Republican Attorneys General denounced administration arguments that deteriorating economic conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic warranted such action. Rather, they denied that economy's current state was directly attributable to the pandemic and highlighted that President Joe Biden has previously declared the pandemic to be over.

They further assert that the recent extension of a pause on loan repayments eliminated any urgent justification for such cancellations, saying "[t]he Department [of Education] can point to no emergency or imminent harm because, just yesterday, the agency extended the payment pause on student loans until the summer of 2023."

Moreover, they contend that the Secretary of Education lacks the statutory authority under the HEROES Act to enact such a sweeping cancellation of student debt.

"In addition, the Act’s text and context demonstrate that its purpose is to keep certain borrowers from falling into a worse position financially in relation to their student loans," they contended. "Yet the Secretary uses it here to place tens of millions of borrowers in a better position by cancelling their loans en masse. The Act does not allow the Secretary to effectively transform federal student loans into grants. It is telling that the Secretary has never before used the Act in this way."