Republicans are readying lawsuits to block Biden’s student debt plan



Republican attorneys general and other leading conservatives are quietly investigating a slew of potential lawsuits targeting President Biden’s plan to forgive some of the student debt — challenges that could limit or invalidate the policy before it completely falls off. becomes power.

In recent days, a number of GOP attorneys general from states including Arizona, Missouri and Texas have met privately to discuss a strategy that would allow multiple cases to be filed in various courts across the country, according to a person known is with their thinking and who spoke about the condition of anonymity to describe the confidential conversations.

Other influential conservatives — including Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and allies of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank — are considering their own options as they ramp up criticism of Biden’s debt relief plan, two additional people familiar with the matter said. And a conservative advocacy group founded by a major Trump donor said it would file a lawsuit against the policy.

“The conservative public interest law firms in our network are investigating whether they can file lawsuits against this. They are doing legal background research and trying to figure out who are the most suitable clients for them,” John Malcolm, director of the Meese Center at the Heritage Foundation, said in an interview. “They need to find a client with the status and the audacity to file a lawsuit. There are several groups in our network that are now investigating this.”

How President Biden decided to go big at forgiving student loans

All sources warned that no decisions have been made – and as of Thursday morning no lawsuits appeared to have been filed. But a legal battle could have major financial ramifications for millions of student borrowers, who rejoiced last week after Democrats made a long-standing pledge to cancel some of their debt.

After six repayment extensions, under pressure from Congress and activists, the White House is trading on federal student loans. (Video: Michael Cadenhead/The Washington Post)

The potential lawsuit also raises the prospect of a broader, precedent-setting courtroom battle over the scope of the president’s economic authority. Such a lawsuit could reach the Supreme Court, bringing it back into the spotlight after infuriating Democrats by repealing abortion protections and limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to respond to climate change.

Under Biden’s plan, announced last week, the government will forgive up to $10,000 in federal college debt — or $20,000 if borrowers also receive Pell Grants, which typically go to lower-income students. While the plan is less generous than some in the Democratic Party initially sought, it still represents a major financial benefit for many debtors — some of whom expressed abhorrence that they could lose the aid before it even arrives.

“That would be terrible,” said Michael Loomus, 31, who works as a call center supervisor in Ohio, referring to the prospect of the courts blocking Biden’s plan. Loomus has struggled to pay off his $11,400 in student loans since dropping out of the University of Toledo, but most of his debt would be wiped out by the president’s plan.

“Looks like they’re constantly trying to keep borrowers in debt,” Loomus added. “I don’t make a lot of money…and before that I felt like I would never pay off my loans.”

The Biden administration is adamant that its policies are legal. The Justice Department last week released a 25-page memo justifying debt forgiveness as “appropriate” under a 2003 law that gave the executive branch broad powers to review student loan programs. That law was passed in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and gave the president the power to cancel student debt in connection with national emergencies — which, according to the White House, includes the ongoing pandemic.

“The legality is very, very strong…The language of the Heroes Act states that in a national emergency, the president can take action, including suspending or canceling debt,” said Laurence Tribe, a Harvard law professor who works closely with him. with the Biden administration.

Who is eligible for Biden’s plan to forgive $10,000 in student debt?

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday night. Bharat Ramamurti, deputy director of the White House’s National Economic Council, told reporters last week that Biden was using the same authority the Trump administration had invoked to put a pause on student loan payments earlier in the pandemic. “That has not been challenged in court. It has not been found unlawful by a court. It is the same statute that the previous government used and that we have used, that we are now using for this action,” Ramamurti said.

He added: “We believe we are on strong legal ground.”

Spokespersons for the Arizona, Missouri and Texas attorney generals did not respond to requests for comment. The most recent talks between the GOP’s attorneys general and their staff took place on Wednesday, the person familiar with the case said.

Conservatives have called the debt cancellation plan fiscally irresponsible and unfair to the millions of Americans who have never attended college or have already paid off their student loans. Republicans have also said the plan is illegal because it takes away spending powers given to Congress, arguing that the 2003 law was never intended to give the executive such unilateral, broad-based authority.

Cruz, who became president in 2020, has emerged as one of the leading GOP critics of the plan, but acknowledged in a radio interview released Wednesday that it remains unclear who will have legal “jurisdiction” — or the decision. will challenge – in court. A Cruz spokesperson declined to comment, referring a reporter to Cruz’s comments in that interview.

Cruz said the courts are unlikely to consider an average taxpayer qualified to sue. It may be possible to find a plaintiff who earned slightly more than the amount needed to qualify for debt forgiveness, according to the senator, but it’s “not clear at all that a court would accept that argument” .

And Cruz added that a lawsuit could be filed by a current student who alleges that the debt cancellation plan will cause colleges to increase tuition fees, unfairly subjecting students to increased fees.

“The difficulty here is finding a plaintiff that the courts will conclude will stand,” Cruz said. “That can be a real challenge.”

Still, conservatives have raced to find a claimant. The president of the Job Creators Network — founded by Bernie Marcus, a GOP donor who started Home Depot — said on Wednesday it is already building a legal team and working with outside counsel to prepare for a lawsuit.

“We are taking this upon ourselves…we are in the process of drafting our plaintiffs,” Alfredo Ortiz, CEO of the Jobs Creator Network, recently told Fox News. “Once they drop all the details on this, we will go to court.”

Separately, some lawmakers have watched their own intervention in such a case. Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) told The Washington Post that he is exploring options to sue Biden over the policy.

Biden announced $10,000 in aid for student loan borrowers earning less than $125,000 annually, and an additional $10,000 for Pell Grant recipients. (Video: Michael Cadenhead/The Washington Post)

Some independent legal experts say a legal challenge can be successful. Jed Handelsman Shugerman, a professor at Fordham Law School, said the Justice Department’s memo justifying the policy over the coronavirus did not fit the nature of the broad action or the way the White House has defended it. When introducing the plan, Biden mainly talked about fixing a broken higher education system and putting less emphasis on providing emergency relief because of the pandemic.

Shugerman stressed that he supports student debt forgiveness and wants the administration to change its legal argument so that it is not overturned by the Supreme Court.

Student loan forgiveness application coming in October, White House says

“If they continue with this argument and this interpretation of the statute, they will probably lose 6 to 3, and it’s possible they could lose by more than 6 to 3,” Shugerman said. Without a shift in governance strategy, Shugerman said, “I foresee this good policy rightly overturned by the courts on legal terms.”

Adam Minsky, a Boston attorney who specializes in student debt issues, said it’s hard to predict exactly what the Supreme Court will rule on, but the most important legal question will likely be whether a plaintiff can sue. Litigation could lead to an emergency order halting the policy once it takes effect, he said, causing chaos for tens of millions of borrowers — possibly just before the midterm elections this fall.

“That would be a mess,” Minsky said. “There may be plenty of judges who say they’ve gone too far.”

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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