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Student Debt Relief Private Loans Informational, Commercial – The Supreme Court on Tuesday appeared skeptical of the Biden administration’s student loan relief program. During nearly three and a half hours of oral arguments, a majority of the justices were not convinced that Congress intended to authorize the Secretary of Education to adopt the program, which has an estimated cost of $400 billion.

A ruling in favor of the challengers would clearly be a major blow to President Joe Biden, who implemented a debt relief program to fulfill a campaign promise. But the court’s decision could also have a broader legal impact, affecting when and how states can go to court to challenge federal policies and how courts should interpret other laws that federal agencies pass. Give options.

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Biden announced the debt relief program last August, which forgives up to $20,000 in debt for qualified borrowers. At the time, student loan payments had already been suspended for nearly two years: In March 2020, then-Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos suspended both payments and interest on federal student loans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Suspended. Both DeVos’ and Biden’s plans rely on the Heroes Act, a law passed after the 9/11 attacks that gives the secretary of education the authority to make changes to student loan programs in response to a “national emergency.” ” answer so as to benefit the borrowers. No one was spared due to the emergency.

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There were two separate challenges before the court on Tuesday, but the justices spent most of their time and energy on the first case, known as

The justices will only reach the merits of the states’ claims if they first agree with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit that the states have a legal right to sue, known as standing. The states’ primary argument is that Missouri has standing because it created and controls the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority, one of the largest holders and servicers of student loans in the United States. Judges, “threatened to cut Mohila’s funding” by around 40 percent. Since all funds above operating income go to student financial aid in Missouri, Campbell stressed, a decrease in MOHELA revenue would mean less money for financial aid in Missouri.

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Representing the Biden administration, U.S. Attorney General Elizabeth Preluger told the justices that if MOHELA could be hurt by the loan forgiveness program, that would not be enough for Missouri to file a lawsuit.

The court’s liberal judges appeared sympathetic. Judge Elena Kagan agreed that MOHELA might have the right to sue — but, she noted, she didn’t. Generally, Kagan noted, you can’t be sued by someone else, including a lawsuit from Missouri. And indeed, he added, Missouri has reaped considerable benefits from creating MOHELA as an independent entity.

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Justice Sonia Sotomayor echoed Kagan’s concerns. It is “difficult to imagine how … Missouri could claim injury” when MOHELA is a separate entity, independent of the state.

And Judge Ketan G. Brown-Jackson raised a broader question. Noting that in his opening statement, Campbell accused the Biden administration of trying to bypass Congress on “one of the most debated policy questions of the day,” he responded that the justices “should worry about jumping into the political arena” unless they are doing so. So in a situation in which someone is standing.

But Justice Samuel Alito seemed unsatisfied. For the purposes of the post, he asked Prelugar, has the Supreme Court ever decided whether an entity like a Mohila is part of the state?

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If the court’s liberal justices were skeptical about states’ right to sue, the court’s conservative justices seemed equally skeptical about whether the Biden administration could rely on the Hero Act to enact a debt relief program. Is.

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Some of this skepticism focused on the text of the Heroes Act itself — and, in particular, its authority to grant the Secretary of Education a response to a national emergency by “waiving] or modifying any statutory or regulatory provision.” Justice Clarence Thomas asked Preluger if the loan forgiveness program was a forgiveness or, alternatively, a modification of existing student loan programs. When Preluger responded that the program forgave existing programs and amended them, Thomas noted that Congress specifically referred to it in other student loan debt cancellation provisions, but did not do so here. Given that Congress specifically As Elsewhere uses the term “repeal,” he asks, how does a waiver or amendment become a “repeal”?

A few minutes later, Thomas returned to the question of the proper label for the Biden administration’s actions. “In reality,” Thomas argued, “it’s a $400 billion grant, and it does away with the Constitution’s requirement” that only Congress can appropriate the money.

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Chief Justice John Roberts was skeptical that the loan forgiveness program was a simple “modification” of existing student loan debt. “We’re talking about half a trillion dollars and 43 million Americans,” Roberts observed. “How does this fit under the common understanding of ‘amendment’?”

Judge Brett Cavanaugh was more accepting of the government’s argument. He told Campbell that you have a good argument that “reversing” doesn’t allow the Department of Education to cancel student loans. But “exemption” is “a very broad word,” he said.

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Judge Neil Gorsuch focused on another requirement of the Hero Act, which gives the secretary of education the authority to waive or modify provisions governing student loan programs to allow borrowers to meet national emergencies. “Not to be financially disadvantaged” due to

Campbell told Gorsuch that the loan forgiveness program, instead of ensuring that borrowers are not put in a worse financial position, “goes beyond putting them back in the status quo”: 20 million borrowers For, this program will wipe out all their debts. While another 20 million borrowers who will benefit from the loan forgiveness program will have their average debt reduced from $29,000 to $13,000.

Kagan interpreted the Hero Act very differently. When Campbell reiterated that the act authorizes the secretary of education to waive or modify student loan rules and regulations, not cancel the loan, Kagan responded that the law is “absolutely obvious”. Congress authorized the Secretary to repeal or amend existing provisions and replace them with new ones. “This is a bill about what happens when you have an emergency,” Kagan continued. “Congress is no clearer than that.”

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Some conservative justices also suggested that the debt forgiveness program could fail under the “large question doctrine,” a principle of statutory interpretation based on the idea that, if Congress authorized an executive agency to ” It wants to give authority to take “decisions”. vast economic and political importance,” it should be clearly defined.

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Preluger opposed any suggestion that the substantive question doctrine applied to the loan forgiveness program. Unlike previous cases in which the court has applied the doctrine, he suggested, the Department of Education “is not asserting extravagant regulatory authority that it does not possess.” In addition, he added, the loan forgiveness program does not involve the department’s regulatory authority. Instead, in the HERO Act, Congress gave the department broad authority to provide benefits to borrowers.

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Alito was skeptical of Preluger’s efforts to draw a line between regulatory programs and benefit programs. “To distinguish between benefit programs and other programs, it seems that when it comes to administering benefit programs, a trillion dollars here, a trillion dollars there, doesn’t really make that much of a difference to Congress.”

Roberts was firmly in the camp that the critical question doctrine applied to the loan forgiveness program. He observed that, in the Biden administration’s view, the Department of Education was not required to give the public an opportunity to comment on the program before adopting it, that “Congress had no role in it,” and — the administration’s Because of the argument that the challengers have no standing – “we have no role in this dispute.” But “we take very seriously,” Roberts told Preluger, the idea that power should be shared among the three branches of government to prevent its abuse.

Roberts said the administration’s handling of the program reminded him of the Trump administration’s efforts to end an Obama-era program that allowed undocumented youth to apply for protection from deportation. can give (In that case, Roberts joined the court’s liberal bloc in arguing that the Trump administration was wrong to end the program.) “And I just wondered,” he asked Preluger. If “don’t recognize that this is an extraordinarily serious case,” the important issues about the role of Congress and the role we should exercise in checking it — important enough that the doctrine of critical questions Should be considered included?

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Kavanaugh also expressed concern that the Secretary of Education has overstepped the authority provided by the HERO Act. He said Congress could have referred to debt forgiveness or debt cancellation in the Hero Act, but it did not. Kavanaugh suggested that the court is facing a familiar, and what he thinks is a “disturbing” scenario, involving an old one.

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