Student loan recipients ask Supreme Court to keep Biden debt relief plan on ice

"Respondents believe it is irrational, arbitrary, and unfair."

Updated: December 7, 2022 - 9:03pm

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Legal counsel for two recipients of federal student loans urged the Supreme Court on Wednesday to uphold a stay on the Biden administration's student debt relief program which a District Court judge in Texas imposed in November.

The Biden administration announced in late August that it would forgive up to $10,000 in student loan debt for those earning less than $125,000 annually and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients. The plan has faced a bevy of legal scrutiny, among them two separate court-ordered pauses on the program.

In this case, Judge Mark Pittman of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, struck down the plan as unconstitutional. The Department of Justice earlier this month asked the court to place the case on hold after it agreed to hear a separate case challenging the plan. In that suit, six Republican-led states are challenging the plan on other grounds and have secured a block on the program from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Texas case involves holders of student loans who argue that the plan unfairly renders them ineligible for debt relief based on arbitrary conditions. One of the plaintiffs, Myra Brown, is ineligible because her loan is a commercially-held federal student loan, which the plan excludes. The other, Alexander Taylor, did not receive a Pell Grant while in college and is thus ineligible for the full amount of relief the plan affords. The advocacy group Job Creators Network is backing Brown and Taylor in their challenge.

"Respondents believe it is irrational, arbitrary, and unfair to exclude Brown from the Program just because her debt is commercially held and not in default, and to calculate the amount of debt forgiveness Taylor receives based on the financial circumstances of his parents," counsel for the plaintiffs wrote advocating that SCOTUS uphold the District Court's stay on the program.

"Respondents want an opportunity to present their views to the Department and to provide additional comments on any proposal from the Department to forgive student loan debts," they continued. "By adopting the Program without negotiated rulemaking and notice-and-comment, the Department deprived Respondents of their “procedural right[s] to protect [their] concrete interests."

Appearing on the "Just the News, No Noise" television show on Wednesday, JCN President Elaine Parker said "this is not the first time that a court has had to tell this administration and this President that he's he does not have unlimited authority."

"And in this case, he is putting forth a program a student loan forgiveness program, and claiming that he has the authority to do it under the HEROES Act, which... was passed for our men and women fighting in the military," she continued. "The people in Congress who passed that law never foresaw a president taking unilateral action to develop a $400 billion program to forgive everyday ordinary Americans who are not overseas fighting a war."

"And so we're pushing back because of the government overreach and the economic damage to our small businesses," she concluded.