The Supreme Court’s conservative majority seemed to cast doubt on the legality of President Joe Biden’s plan to forgive more than $400 billion in student debt.
Why it matters: The court’s caution puts the student debt relief program, a signature piece of Biden’s agenda, at risk.
What’s happening: Six Republican-led states, Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, and South Carolina, argued whether the Biden administration can implement the student loan forgiveness plan without congressional authorization.
- The six conservative justices in the nine-member Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., seemed to side with the GOP-led states. They cited the “major questions doctrine,” which requires Congress to clearly authorize executive branch actions with significant political and economic consequences.
- In response, the three liberal justices argued that Congress had already passed a law in 2003, often called the HEROES Act, that gave the secretary of education the authority to “waive or modify” student loan provisions in case of national emergencies.
- Meanwhile, the Biden administration focused on whether the states have suffered a specific injury that gave them legal standing to sue. The court also appeared skeptical of it.
Opinions: Observers said Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan did go too far, but it would be an overreach if the Supreme Court struck it down since it would violate a core judicial principle that courts can only hear cases where the parties have standing to sue.