Republican attorneys general, corporate advocacy groups, and other organizations are looking for ways to sue Biden over its new plan to cancel $10,000 in federal student loans debt for most borrowers. The hope is that the conservative-rich U.S. judiciary will block the executive action to deny desperately needed relief to around 40,000,000 people.
Shortly after President Joe Biden announced his debt forgiveness plan, the Job Creators Network — a dark money organization representing business groups and executives — declared that it is “weighing its legal options to block President Biden’s illegal student loan bailout,” calling the move “executive overreach.”
Americans for Prosperity, an organization founded by billionaire Charles Koch and his late brother David, also expressed outrage at the Biden administration’s plan, wailing that “this shameless handout will only push education costs even higher, cause people to take out even bigger loans, and set a dangerous precedent that the government will just come along and erase their debt in the future.”
The main question that is vexing right-wing officials and groups is whether any party can sue over the debt relief program, which is the result years of sustained grassroots activism.
This is a widely cited article Virginia Law Review article published in April argues that essentially no one — not taxpayers, not former borrowers, not state governments, not loan servicers, and not Congress — has standing under current law and legal precedent to challenge student debt cancellation in court.
Ken Paxton, Republican Attorney General of Texas, and one of many GOP officials looking for ways to stop the debt relief plan from being canceled, acknowledged the obstacle in an appearance on the right wing channel Newsmax.
“I don’t think this is constitutional,” said Paxton. “We have to find a way in the state of Texas to find standing, or we need individuals to sue that have damages as a result of this. Because that, I think, is going to be the most effective way of getting at what I view as clearly something the president can’t authorize.”
Paxton: We need to find a way for Texas to have standing. pic.twitter.com/aDlVWysOVn
— Acyn (@Acyn) August 25, 2022
Echoing Paxton: Eric Schmitt, Missouri Attorney-General told Fox News Digital that he is “actively looking into legal options to halt the Biden administration’s abuse of power.”
The White House decided to have its headquarters in Washington. legal case for sweeping student debt relief on the 2003 Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students (HEROES) Act, which gives the education secretary the authority to waive laws related to student aid programs in the case of “a war or other military operation or national emergency,” such as a global pandemic.
In a memo released last week, the Justice Department states that the HEROES Act “grants the secretary of education authority to reduce or eliminate the obligation to repay the principal balance of federal student loan debt, including on a class-wide basis in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, provided all other requirements of the statute are satisfied.”
Right-wing groups, GOP lawyers general and centrist think tank such as Third Way are all targets claimed the administration’s legal justification is faulty, but Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern argues that “Congress intended the HEROES Act to apply swiftly and widely.”
“The Trump and Biden administrations both used this law to freeze student loan payments during the pandemic,” Stern noted Thursday. “Going by the plain language of the law alone, Biden’s plan is likely legal.”
Opponents of Biden’s student loan program fail to note that the federal government forgives billions in student loans *all the time.* Mass loan relief is baked into the system! This authority was not challenged by anyone until Biden increased the program’s size! https://t.co/9ODmBZ7KLn pic.twitter.com/pb4c2vFdby
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) August 25, 2022
However, Stern cautioned that “certain key circuit courts and the Supreme Court seem to follow one standing rule: When a majority wants to decide a case on the merits, they find some justification to grant standing; when it doesn’t, they don’t.”
The so-called “major questions doctrine” is also a potential sticking point.
“The Biden administration should proceed on the assumption that the conservative jurists, and ultimately the justices themselves, will be eager to shred the new program, and will therefore find that somebody, somewhere has standing,” he wrote. “It should also consider its response when a Trump judge inevitably issues a nationwide injunction against debt cancellation and the Supreme Court’s conservatives uphold it. There are several paths to student debt relief, and even this partisan judiciary cannot block them all.”
One such path, Stern suggests, is for the Biden administration to announce “that any borrower affected by the pandemic can apply for relief” if the Supreme Court rules that the education secretary “must identify a more specific class of borrowers whose ability to pay off loans was demonstrably harmed by the pandemic.”