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False Promises: Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan unconstitutional

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 30, 2023—In a 6-3 decision the United States Supreme Court today ruled that President Joe Biden’s executive order to forgive hundreds of billions of dollars in federal student loan debt is an overreach of the Executive Branch of government.

“The Secretary asserts that the HEROES Act grants him the authority to cancel $430 billion of student loan principal. It does not.,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority. “We hold today that the Act allows the Secretary to ‘waive or modify’ existing statutory or regulatory provisions applicable to financial assistance programs under the Education Act, not to rewrite that statute from the ground up.”

“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,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote. “Six States sued, arguing that the HEROES Act does not authorize the loan cancellation plan. We agree.”

Chief Justice John Roberts was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett who voted in the majority. The dissenting Justices were Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson with Elena Kagan filing the dissenting opinion.

In August of last year, the Biden administration announced an executive order to cancel up to $20,000 in federal student-loan debt for those making less than $125,000 in income per year Under the HEROES Act.

This lawsuit was filed in a federal court in Missouri last month by state attorneys general from Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Carolina, and legal representatives from Iowa. 

Legal challenges for almost a year claimed that Congress and not the Biden administration only has the legal authority to broadly cancel student loan debt. A claim that was reiterated in July of 2021 by then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi during a presser telling reporters that only an Act of Congress can forgive student loan debt.

“People think that the President of the United States has the power for debt forgiveness, he does not,” Speaker Pelosi said. “He can postpone, he can delay, but he does not have that power. That would have to be an Act of Congress.”

However, lawyers for the Biden Administration, now falsely, argued that Congress gave the secretary of education the power to discharge debt in a 2003 law known as the HEROES Act.

Roughly 26 million U.S. borrowers applied for relief after Biden announced the plan in August 2022, according to Reuters. Also, borrowers will be required to begin repaying their student loans starting September 1, 2023. There’s no chance of further payment pause extensions, due to a provision in the debt ceiling deal passed by Congress on June 2, 2023. The forbearance period originally began as an emergency pandemic measure in March of 2020 under President Donald J Trump.

“I will stop at nothing to find other ways to deliver relief to hard-working middle-class families,” Biden said in a statement.

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