- The Supreme Court heard oral arguments for two cases challenging the Biden administration’s student loan cancellation plan on Tuesday, and two Republican attorneys general opposing the plan told the Daily Caller News Foundation that they are optimistic the court will rule in their favor.
- Six Republican states filed a lawsuit against the administration in October 2022, alleging it had exceeded its authority after pushing through the student loan plan without congressional approval.
- “President Biden knows he needs congressional authority to do this. That’s why he tried to get a bill passed, and he couldn’t,” Republican Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey said.
Two Republican attorneys general who challenged President Joe Biden’s student loan cancellation plan are optimistic after Tuesday’s Supreme Court oral arguments, they told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The high court heard arguments for Biden v. Nebraska, which was filed by the attorneys general of six Republican states on the basis that the administration overstepped its statutory authority when it moved to cancel up to $20,000 for borrowers with Pell grants and $10,000 for borrowers who did not in August without Congressional approval. The Biden administration used the 2003 Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students (HEROES) Act to justify canceling debt during a national emergency, but the plaintiffs argued the plan is “arbitrary and capricious,” according to the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG).
Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Carolina are the states that sued.
“I was pleased with [the Supreme Court’s] level of engagement and understanding of the issues,” Republican Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey told the DCNF. “I think the argument went really well.”
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a nationwide injunction in November while the case pended legal action and ruled that Missouri, specifically, had standing to sue since Biden’s student debt plan could harm the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority which was determined to be an “arm of the state,” according to NAAG.
Republican Nebraska Attorney General Mike Hilgers told the DCNF he was “confident in [their] arguments” and believes that the states’ arguments against Biden’s plan “will win the day.” He said that the case may be the “one of the most important cases” he will work on since it will determine the extent of separation of powers in the Constitution.
“At the end of the day, this goes to the foundation of our republic. It’s a critical case to be a part of,” he told the DCNF.
For Bailey, the case is also centered on bringing fairness to his constituents.
“There are a lot of working families in Missouri who didn’t go to college because they didn’t want to take on that debt,” he said. “For me, having paid that debt in blood, sweat and tears in service in the military this is personal, as well. There are legal issues as well as issues of policy and so that’s why those policy issues need to go to the Congress.”
The court is likely to side with student loan challengers, legal experts told the DCNF Monday. The court heard a second case Tuesday, Department of Education v. Brown, which was brought by two student loan borrowers.
“The Biden administration’s plan to cancel student debt is unprecedented,” Defense of Freedom Institute President and Co-Founder Bob Eitel previously told the DCNF. “Should the Supreme Court allow this $400 billion boondoggle to go forward, it would authorize such an extreme expansion of presidential power that it would grossly undermine the authority of Congress to make spending decisions granted by the Constitution.”
Chief Justice John Roberts said during Tuesday’s oral arguments that the plan could be better suited for congressional action because of its estimated $400 billion price tag, the Associated Press reported.
“If you’re talking about this in the abstract, I think most casual observers would say if you’re going to give up that much … money. If you’re going to affect the obligations of that many Americans on a subject that’s of great controversy, they would think that’s something for Congress to act on,” Roberts said.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh voiced concern that the plan relied on an “old law” to support a program previously rejected by Congress, according to AP.
Student debt cancellation supporters rallied outside the Supreme Court Monday night and Tuesday during the oral arguments, the DCNF observed. Activists held signs insisting that the debt cancellation plan is legal.
Hilgers told the DCNF student loan activists should direct their time and energy toward Congress who “has the ability to potentially do something like this.”
“President Biden knows he needs congressional authority to do this. That’s why he tried to get a bill passed, and he couldn’t,” Bailey said. “It was only after his legislative efforts failed that he turned to unelected bureaucrats to execute his policy positions. He knows better and that’s why somebody had to step up and hold him accountable.”
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