Biden’s Student Debt Relief Program Blocked in Court


President Joe Biden | Image by Getty Images

The game of cat-and-mouse continues as the Department of Justice fights back after the current administration’s student loan forgiveness program was blocked by two separate court rulings.

A federal appeals court issued an injunction on Monday temporarily barring President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan.

The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling said, “The injunction will remain in effect until further order of this court or the Supreme Court of the United States.”

The injunction put the debt relief program on hold following an appeal of a lower court ruling that allowed the program to move forward.

President Biden’s controversial plan would cancel $10,000 in student loan debt for those making less than $125,000 or households with less than $250,000 in income. Pell Grant recipients would receive an additional $10,000 in debt forgiveness.

Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Arkansas, and South Carolina launched a concerted legal effort to block the program and turned to the court of appeals after their case was dismissed by a federal judge. Before issuing this injunction, the court issued a temporary stay on October 21.

On Thursday, the Justice Department indicated that it plans to ask the Supreme Court to reinstate the loan forgiveness program.

“The government will be filing an application with the Supreme Court to vacate a separate injunction against the Secretary’s action entered by the Eight Circuit earlier this week,” the DOJ said in a court filing for a separate case appealing a November 10 ruling from a federal judge in Fort Worth who blocked the loan forgiveness program.

The Job Creators Network Foundation, a conservative advocacy group, alleged the Biden administration violated proper procedures, as borrowers who do not qualify for the program were not allowed to provide public comment.

U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman, a Trump appointee, declared the policy unlawful, stating that Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan was an “unconstitutional exercise of Congress’s legislative power.”

“This case involves the question of whether Congress — through the HEROES Act — gave the Secretary authority to implement a Program that provides debt forgiveness to millions of student-loan borrowers, totaling over $400 billion,” Pittman wrote.

He continued, “Whether the Program constitutes good policy is not the role of the court to determine. Still, no one can plausibly deny that it is either one of the largest delegations of legislative power to the executive branch or one of the largest exercises of legislative power without congressional authority in the history of the United States.”

“In this country, we are not ruled by an all-powerful executive with a pen and a phone. Instead, we are ruled by a Constitution that provides for three distinct and independent branches of government,” he said. “The Court is not blind to the current political division in our country.”

Pittman continued, “But it is fundamental to the survival of our Republic that the separation of powers as outlined in our Constitution be preserved. And having interpreted the HEROES Act, the Court holds that it does not provide ‘clear congressional authorization’ for the Program proposed by the Secretary.”

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