Supreme Court asked to block Biden student debt relief program

Supreme Court nominee and US Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 21, 2020.

Ken Cedeno | Reuters

The Supreme Court was asked Wednesday to block the Biden administration’s student loan debt relief program, which is set to take effect this weekend.

The Brown County Taxpayers Association, a group from Wisconsin, directed the emergency request to delay the implementation of the debt relief plan to Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who is responsible for handling such requests from the 7th Federal Circuit of Appeals, which includes that state.

The emergency filing by the association requests that President Joe Biden’s plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for millions of borrowers be suspended while the lawsuit unfolds. The Biden administration could begin processing borrowers’ requests for student loan forgiveness as early as this Sunday.

The U.S. Department of Education opened its student loan forgiveness application in a beta test on Friday, and more than 8 million people submitted requests for relief that weekend. The application was officially launched on Monday.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Legal challenges to student loan forgiveness

The legal challenges that have been leveled against the president’s plan continue to mount.

Six Republican-led states – Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Carolina – are trying to block Biden’s plan, arguing that the president does not have the power to issue nationwide debt relief without Congress. They also argue that the policy would hurt private companies that service some federal student loans by reducing their business.

A federal judge earlier this month dismissed The Brown County Taxpayers Association’s lawsuit against the Biden administration, finding it lacked standing to bring its challenge.

The biggest hurdle for those hoping to prevent the president’s action is finding a plaintiff who can prove they have been harmed by the policy. “Such harm is necessary to establish what the courts call ‘standing,'” said Laurence Tribe, a law professor at Harvard.

Tribe said he is not convinced that any of the current lawsuits filed have done so.

This is a development story. Check back for updates.

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