The Supreme Court has struck down President Joe Biden’s plans of student loan forgiveness. In a 6-3 decision announced on Friday (June 30), the high court ruled that the Department of Education had unlawful exercise to clear more than $400 billion in federal student loan debt, per The New York Times. In two cases, it was also found that presidential power over student loans had not been explicitly approved by Congress.
The court rejected the Biden administration’s arguments that the forgiveness plan was lawful under the 2003 Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act, or HEROES Act. The law states that Americans can be provided governmental relief for student loans when there is a “national emergency,” allowing it to act as support to ensure that people are not in “a worse position financially.”
Chief Justice John Roberts stated the HEROES Act language was not specific enough and that the court’s precedent “requires that Congress speak clearly before a department secretary can unilaterally alter large sections of the American economy.”
“The Secretary asserts that the HEROES Act grants him the authority to cancel $430 billion of student loan principal. It does not,” Roberts wrote. “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 proposed plan would have allotted eligible borrowers to cancel up to $20,000 in student loan debt for Pell Grant borrowers and up to $10,000 for others. 43 million Americans would have been eligible to participate.
In her dissent, Justice Elena Kagan warned that the Supreme Court is headed towards becoming “maker of national policy” by not deferring to President Biden and Congress to declare the national agenda.
“That is no proper role for a court,” Kagan wrote. “And it is a danger to a democratic order.”
The decision comes one day after the Supreme Court ruled against race-based college and university admissions.
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