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Supreme Court hands Biden huge defeat

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Inflation Reduction Act in the State Dining Room at the White House on Thursday, July 28, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)
June 30, 2023

The Supreme Court handed the Biden administration a massive defeat Friday as it ruled that the administration does not have the authority to cancel over $400 billion in student loans.

The United States’ top court ruled 6-3 that Biden’s secretary of education does not have the power to forgive $430 billion in student loans.

“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 John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. “Six States sued, arguing that the HEROES Act does not authorize the loan cancellation plan. We agree.”

According to NBC News, the Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness plan has been blocked since October, when the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary hold on the plan.

Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan was estimated to cost U.S. taxpayers over $400 billion, with eligible borrowers able to receive as much as $20,000 in debt forgiven.

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During the Supreme Court’s deliberation on student loan forgiveness, the Biden administration’s lawyers claimed that the administration had the authority to cancel roughly $430 billion in student loans as a result of the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act (HEROES ACT) of 2003.

According to the New York Times, Congress granted the secretary of education power to “waive or modify any statutory or regulatory provision” for borrowers affected by “a war or other military operation or national emergency.”

While the Biden administration argued that the HEROES Act provided the executive branch with authority to forgive $430 billion in student loans, Roberts wrote, “The dissent’s interpretation of the HEROES Act would grant unlimited power to the Secretary, not only to modify or waive certain provisions but to ‘fill the holes that action creates with new terms’—no matter how drastic those terms might be—and to ‘alter [provisions] to the extent [he] think[s] appropriate,’ up to and including ‘the most substantial kind of change’ imaginable.”

Roberts added, “The question here is not whether something should be done; it is who has the authority to do it.”

Roberts also cited a former video of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in his opinion, explaining that the president does not have the authority to forgiven student loans without the aid of the legislative branch.

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

This was a breaking news story. The details were periodically updated as more information became available.