U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision Blocking Biden’s Loan Forgiveness Plan Condemned

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For the second day in a row, the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court is being condemned for decisions related to education in America. Thursday, the Court issued two decisions striking down affirmative action programs in college admissions in the Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard; and Students for Fair Admissions v. UNC.  The vote was 6-2 in the Harvard case and 6-3 in the UNC case.

Today, in a 6-3 ruling, SCOTUS blocked President Biden’s  plan to cancel $430 billion in student debt. Many education advocates and organizations are now denouncing this ruling.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona issued the following statement on the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Biden Administration’s one-time student debt relief plan: 

“Today, the Supreme Court ruled against students and families across the country. It’s an outrage that lawsuits brought on by Republican elected officials have blocked critical student debt relief that would have been a lifeline for more than 40 million Americans—nearly 90 percent of whom make less than $75,000 a year.

“President Biden, Vice President Harris, and I will never stop fighting for borrowers, which is why we are using every tool available to provide them with needed relief. Earlier today, the Department of Education initiated a regulatory process to provide debt relief, so we can help the working- and middle-class borrowers who need it most.

“Additionally, today the Department finalized our new income driven repayment plan, Saving on A Valuable Education (SAVE), which will be the most affordable repayment plan in history. It will cut monthly payments to zero dollars for millions of low-income borrowers, save all other borrowers at least $1,000 per year, and stop runaway interest that leaves borrowers owing more than their initial loan.

“Finally, the Department is providing a 12-month on-ramp transition period that will help ensure borrowers smoothly and successfully return to repayment without falling into delinquency or default. Borrowers who can make payments should do so as payments will resume and interest will accrue, but the on-ramp to repayment will help borrowers avoid the harshest consequences of missed, partial, or late payments like negative credit reports and having loans referred to collection agencies.

“In addition to today’s actions, our Administration will continue the critical work we have pursued under President Biden’s leadership to make college more affordable to more Americans and make long-overdue improvements to the student loan system. President Biden, Vice President Harris, and I remain fully committed to ensuring students can earn a postsecondary education, and build fulfilling careers without the burden of student loan debt blocking them from opportunity.”

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement responding to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Biden v. Nebraska:

“Today, the court launched a full-frontal attack on young people’s futures. If there was any remaining doubt, the majority has exposed themselves as a group of politicians in robes, determined to put the interests of their wealthy supporters over the lives of working families.

“Between yesterday’s affirmative action case and today’s decision on student debt, the court has decided that if you or your family has the ability and means, you can succeed, but if you’re a struggler or striver, you’re on your own. For decades, students have been told that a college education is one of the most important vehicles to get ahead, but years of disinvestment and the actions of predatory loan servicers drastically tightened the shackles of debt, destroying students’ budgets. COVID-19 made that predicament far worse—and the Biden administration stepped up with a plan to help those who’ve had their lives derailed.

“The right wing’s bad faith legal argument, adopted wholesale by the justices, is shameful in its cynicism and ruinous in its impact. Even though the law is clear—the president has authority under the HEROES Act to help ease COVID-19’s burden and cancel debt for 40 million Americans—the court’s failure to address the obvious issues of legal standing constitutes stunning malpractice. Even MOHELA, a for-profit loan servicer, rejected any involvement in these legal games. And tellingly, the extremists who brought this case were silent when President Trump launched efforts to ease the burden of student debt during the height of the pandemic.

“If this ruling were the end of the road, it would drastically increase the risk of default for millions of borrowers, mostly women, people of color, lower-income people and retired people, when the pandemic payment pause ends. It would thwart the life decisions that boost our economy—like buying a car, buying a house or having a child—decisions that debt relief makes possible. Fortunately, canceling debt under the HEROES Act isn’t the only legal remedy available: The president has other options, and we hope he swiftly decides on a new path.

“The majority should be ashamed—if they were capable of feeling it. Instead, it is everyday Americans who, without further action, stand to pay the price for their warped reading of the law.”

Damon Hewitt, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, issued this statement following the Court’s decision: 

“Today the Court chose to needlessly impose financial hardship on millions of Americans, failing to recognize the administration’s clear legal authority to forgive student debt. This lawful and sensible debt relief had the power to transform millions of lives, lifting them from a negative financial net worth to a position of newfound economic security. Ending this important program will have potential impacts for generations to come, and is a lost opportunity that economists will be talking about for decades. We are disappointed by the Court’s decision to dismantle the student debt relief program, reneging on promises made to the millions of lower-income borrowers sorely in need of the financial stability this program afforded them. The Biden-Harris Administration created this plan to address the unprecedented economic harm caused by the pandemic, taking into consideration the disproportionate burden Black and Latinx borrowers have historically taken on to afford educational opportunities from which they have been historically excluded.

“Just as we demonstrated in our amicus brief, overturning the program will only exacerbate pre-existing racial disparities, further feeding into educational inequities that continue to disadvantage Black and brown students to the advantage of white students. Overturning student debt cancellation will have profound implications on Black and other communities of color; and with education costs and debt continuing to rise, compounded by a decision curtailing affirmative action in college admissions, the impact could be far-reaching—if we let it.

“The Court’s decisions–including its disgraceful ruling on affirmative action–remind us of the tremendous work we still have to do to address deep-rooted barriers to educational access. With the gut punch on affirmative action, followed by the sucker punch on student debt relief, a majority of this Court is trying to remake the law. That is why we must now call on higher education leaders ro remake higher education. Student debt is a symptom of an overarching problem: an education system that is unaffordable, inaccessible and inequitable. We must do more to ensure this system fairly serves our nation’s students who rely on it.”

Congresswoman Cori Bush (MO-01), member of the House Judiciary Committee, released the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court announced its 6-3 ruling striking down President Biden’s plan to provide student debt relief for millions nationwide:

“This harmful decision is the result of a biased Supreme Court — plain and simple. Three things were absolutely clear about this case from the start: first, President Biden’s plan is completely legal; second, Missouri should not have been able to bring this case because MOHELA would not be harmed by the President’s plan; and third, the Supreme Court’s extreme right-wing justices have repeatedly proven that they prioritize lining their own pockets with handouts from their billionaire-besties over straightforward and legal student debt relief for millions of borrowers.

“It remains evident that we cannot trust our nation’s highest court, which is why President Biden must keep the promise he made to cancel student debt for over 40 million people by pursuing one of the several alternative paths at his disposal to deliver debt relief.

“As payments are set to resume October 1st, millions of borrowers face financial uncertainty about the magnitude of their debt burden. We must preempt this looming student loan default crisis. The Biden Administration has an obligation to support borrowers in a seamless transition toward repayment. Inaction is not an option. My Democratic colleagues and I will continue to champion policies that tackle the rising costs of acquiring a higher education.

“Especially in the wealthiest country in the world, no one should go into debt to receive a higher education. Access to education is a fundamental human right, and that is why we must continue to fight to make college affordable, accessible, and equitable for all people at all income levels. That’s why I am pushing for the cancellation of all federal student loan debt and to achieve universal access to higher education, including by passing the College for All Act. We will continue to press for the Supreme Court reform we desperately need. This fight is far from over.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) released the statement following the Supreme Court’s decision on student debt.

“43 million Americans. That’s how many people the rightwing partisan justices on the Supreme Court just condemned to years—sometimes a lifetime—of debt thanks to their own corruption. This court with a single decision has transferred $1.6 trillion back onto the shoulders of the working and middle class. This will prevent Americans from opening businesses, from starting families, paying rent, and paying medical bills.

“The legal arguments of the majority here are senseless. The HEROES Act explicitly gives the Secretary of Education “expansive authority to alleviate the hardship that federal student loan recipients may suffer as a result of national emergencies.” Cancellation is a critical tool in the Secretary’s toolbox and has rightfully been used to provide mass relief for borrowers defrauded by their school and disabled borrowers.

“As President Biden said yesterday following the court’s bad ruling on affirmative action, “We cannot let this decision be the last word.”

“But the illegitimacy of their actions makes more sense once you understand the depth of their corruption. Three of the rightwing justices were appointed by a twice-impeached president who lost the popular vote twice and led an insurrection when he lost the electoral vote. Two others were appointed by another president who lost the popular vote. Two have been credibly accused of sexual assault. Two have taken obscene private gifts—including private jet rides —from their billionaire backers with business before the court. One, Clarence Thomas, even accepted private tuition for a child he was raising from his billionaire backer—especially ironic given his ruling today. Together, the rightwing justices reek of corruption.

“We cannot return to the status quo of mass default and distress. Poll after poll shows that the American people support debt relief for the working and middle class. Every option needs to be on the table to ensure borrowers are protected from economic ruin by being thrown back into a fundamentally broken student loan system come September 1st.

“I want to thank President Biden, Secretary Cardona and the Administration for their brave leadership on this issue—and urge them to continue the fight—to follow through on their promise and ensure that working and middle class borrowers do not have their future cut short.”

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) issued the following statement on the Supreme Court’s decision on President Biden’s student debt cancellation plan.

“I vehemently disagree with this decision. The Court put monied interests above the law and the will of the people today. The President’s plan to cancel student debt would change and save lives, and borrowers across the country who feel devastated by this unjust ruling should know that this fight is not over,” said Rep. Pressley. “I am calling on President Biden and Secretary Cardona to use other tools available to them to swiftly cancel student debt. The people demand and deserve this long overdue economic relief and a promise is a promise. The Biden Administration should act immediately. I won’t let up.”

Rep. Pressley has been a leading voice in Congress urging President Biden to cancel student debt. Following years of advocacy by Rep. Pressley—in partnership with colleagues, borrowers, and advocates—the Biden-Harris Administration announced a historic plan to cancel student debt that stands to benefit over 40 million people.

Last month, Rep. Pressley delivered a powerful speech in support of President Biden’s plan to cancel student debt and issued a statement slamming Republicans’ harmful effort to overturn the President’s student debt relief measures, including his debt cancellation plan, the pause on student loan payments, and the expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

Rep. Pressley also filed an amendment to H.R. 3746, legislation to raise the debt ceiling, to protect student loan borrowers and preserve the Biden Administration’s pause on federal student loan payments.

  • On May 24, 2023, Rep. Pressley issued a statement slamming Republicans’ harmful effort to overturn President Biden’s student debt relief, including his debt cancellation plan, the pause on student loan payments, and the expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.
  • On May 24, 2023, Rep. Pressley delivered a powerful speech in support of President Biden’s plan to cancel student debt, which would benefit millions of people across the country.
  • On April 5, 2023, Rep. Pressley and Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote to the CEO of SoFi Technologies and SoFi Lending Corp calling on the company to answer for its lawsuits attempting to end the student loan payment pause and force borrowers back into repayment.
  • On March 7, 2023, Rep. Pressley, along with Sens. Warren, Schumer, Sanders, Padilla and Reps. Clyburn, Omar and Wilson led a letter to the Biden Administration expressing continued support for President Biden’s student debt relief plan.
  • On February 28, 2023, Rep. Pressley rallied with borrowers and advocates outside the Supreme Court to call on the Supreme Court to affirm the legality of President Biden’s student debt cancellation plan.
  • On November 22, 2022, Rep. Pressley issued a statement applauding the extension of the student loan payment pause.
  • On October 25, 2022, Rep. Pressley and Senator Warren toured communities across Massachusetts to celebrate the Biden administration’s student debt cancellation plan and help residents sign up for student loan relief.
  • On October 12, 2022, Rep. Pressley joined parent borrowers and advocates for a discussion on the impacts of student debt cancellation on parents and families.
  • On September 29, 2022, Rep. Pressley, along with Senate Majority Leader Schumer and Reps. Omar, Jones and advocates, held a press conference to call for swift and equitable implementation of President Biden’s student debt cancellation plan.
  • On September 21, 2022, Rep. Pressley delivered a powerful speech on the House floor in which she heralded President Biden’s action to cancel student debt for millions of families in the Massachusetts 7th and across the nation. Watch the full video here.
  • On September 12, 2022, Rep. Pressley and Senator Warren wrote to the nine federal student loan servicers to inquire about how they are providing borrowers with accurate and timely information about student loan cancellation.
  • On August 24, 2022, Congresswoman Pressley issued a statement applauding President Biden’s action to cancel student debt.
  • On August 10, 2022, Congresswoman Pressley and Senator Warren Massachusetts joined Massachusetts union leaders in Dorchester for a roundtable discussion on student debt cancellation.
  • On July 18, 2022, Congresswoman Pressley delivered remarks at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) national convention and renewed her calls for President Biden to cancel student debt by executive action.
  • On July 8, 2022, Congresswoman Pressley with The Debt Collective hosted a virtual roundtable with student debt holders from all walks of life to highlight the intersectional burden the nearly $2 trillion student debt crisis has had on individuals and families.
  • On June 22, 2022, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, with Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, joined AFL-CIO and union leaders for a roundtable discussion on the importance of student debt cancellation for American workers.
  • On May 20, 2022, Congresswoman Pressley applauded the Congressional Black Caucus’ (CBC) statement calling on President Biden to cancel student loan debt.
  • On May 4, 2022, Congresswoman Pressley visited Bunker Hill Community College to celebrate the $1 million in federal community project funding she secured and continued her calls for President Biden to cancel student debt.
  • On March 17, 2022, Congresswoman Pressley and Arisha Hatch, vice president and chief of campaigns at Color of Change, published an op-ed in Grio calling on President Biden to use his executive order authority to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt per borrower.
  • On December 8, 2021, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a bicameral letter to President Joe Biden releasing new data about the adverse impact of restarting student loan payments and calling on him to act to cancel up to $50,000 of student debt.
  • On December 2, 2021, Congresswoman Pressley delivered remarks on the House floor in which she reiterated her calls for President Biden to cancel $50,000 in federal student loan debt by executive action.
  • On October 8, 2021, Representatives Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar and their House colleagues sent a letter to President Biden and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona urging him to release the memo to determine the extent of the administration’s authority to broadly cancel student debt through administrative action.
  • On July 29, 2021, Congresswoman Pressley issued a statement reaffirming President Biden’s authority – and the urgency – to cancel student loan debt.
  • On June 23, 2021, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Congressman Joe Courtney led their colleagues on a bicameral letter to President Biden calling on him to extend the pause on federal student loan payments.
  • On April 13, 2021, Congresswoman Pressley testified at a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Policy hearing to examine the student loan debt crisis in our country.
  • On April 1, 2021, Congresswoman Pressley, along with Senator Elizabeth Warren and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, held a press conference calling President Biden to tackle the student loan debt crisis.
  • On February 4, 2021, Congresswoman Pressley, along with several Democratic House and Senate leaders, led their colleagues in reintroducing a bicameral resolution outlining a bold plan for President Biden to tackle the student loan debt crisis.
  • On December 17, 2020, Representatives Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Maxine Waters, and Alma Adams introduced a resolution outlining a bold plan for President-elect Joe Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in Federal student loan debt for student loan borrowers.
  • On December 10, 2020, Congresswoman Pressley was in Yahoo Finance urging the Biden administration to cancel student debt, stressing the impact on Black borrowers.
  • On May 8, 2020, Representatives Ayanna Pressley, Alma Adams, and Ilhan Omar, led 28 of their colleagues and sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy calling for the universal, one-time, student debt cancellation of at least $30,000 per borrower in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation.
  • On March 23, 2020, Representatives Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar introduced the Student Debt Emergency Relief Act, legislation that provides immediate monthly payment relief for federal student loan borrowers.
  • On March 17, 2020, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and Senator Elizabeth Warren were on The Hill calling on congressional leadership to include student debt cancellation in the next coronavirus relief package.
  • On October 11, 2019, Congresswoman Pressley introduced legislation – the Ending Debt Collection Harassment Act – to protect consumers from abusive debt collection.
  • On July 17, 2019, Congresswomen Pressley introduced legislation – the Student Borrower Credit Improvement Act – to provide much needed support to private student loan borrowers with a pathway to financial stability by helping them improve their credit.

Rev. Al Sharpton, Founder and President of the National Action Network (NAN), condemned the Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision to block President Biden’s student debt relief plan as an assault on young Black and Brown Americans.

“A day after the Supreme Court stuck a knife in the back of Black America, a majority of justices have now cut the ladder out from under us. Generations of Black youth were sold a bill of goods that higher education was a pathway out of poverty – only to be saddled with crushing debt that never lets them see their dreams fully realized. President Biden’s relief plan would have provided a little help for millions caught up in this broken promise. Now, the Supreme Court has ruled even a mere $10,000 is too much, especially when the average Black college graduate owes well over $50,000.

“This Court clearly has a self-imposed mandate to legislate from the bench. They have waged war on women, unions, Black and Brown Americans, the LGBTQ+ community, religious freedom, and democracy. In the last two days, they have set their sights on college students to either block them from getting into elite institutions or put a financial albatross around their neck so they can’t succeed. These decisions underscore why we are uniting for the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington this August 26th to stop the campaign to steal our rights and beat us down. The National Action Network will work with its youth leadership to continue pushing for the policies that end the student debt scam. We applaud President Biden’s commitment to following through on this campaign pledge, because millions of Black and Brown Americans are counting on it.”

FPWA CEO Jennifer Jones Austin issued the following statement today in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn President Biden’s student debt relief program.

As an organization dedicated to fighting poverty and supporting individuals with low incomes, FPWA condemns the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down student debt relief for millions of Americans.

“The overturn of President Biden’s student loan debt forgiveness program will not be felt equally because the burden of student loan debt is not shouldered equally. Our latest analysis shows that Black college graduates owe an average $25,000 more in debt because even with identical degrees, they make far less per year than their white peers. Lower earning power contributes to longer times to pay off student debt, and delayed purchasing power for known generational wealth-building mechanisms like homeownership.

“FPWA remains committed to shedding the light on the racial and economic inequity embedded in this issue and pushing forward policy solutions that uplift Americans struggling with financial security.”

FPWA’s latest analysis demonstrates the lack of civil rights progress since the 1963 March on Washington, which includes an increased racial gap in difficulty paying off student debt.


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