Supreme Court on Student Loan Forgiveness
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in cases challenging the Biden administration's student loan relief program; one from a group of Republican-led states and another from borrowers who challenged their ineligibility for forgiveness. Congressional Republicans want the court to restrict the regulatory power of the Biden administration even if that would hamstring a future GOP president through a legal doctrine that requires an agency to point to "clear congressional authorization" for rules on "major questions" of political and economic significance. The administration has countered that the authority to discharge debt is part of a federal benefit program, not a regulatory action, and it is central to a 2003 law. The government argued in its own brief, the major questions doctrine does not apply to its program to forgive as much or more than $400 billion in student loans owed to the government. Forty-three Republican senators filed a brief that calls for the court to find that the student debt relief plan goes beyond what Congress intended in that 2003 law; more than 100 House Republicans filed a brief that argues the debt program "undoubtedly" has the significance to trigger the major questions doctrine. The Supreme Court's conservative majority expressly referenced the major questions doctrine for the first time in a decision last term that the EPA did not have the authority to address the major question of greenhouse gas emissions under current law.