The Biden Administration Wants The Supreme Court To Keep A Programme That Helps Students Pay Off Their Debts

The Biden administration announced in court documents on Thursday that it intended to ask the Supreme Court to remove one of the legal barriers impeding the implementation of its student debt relief programme, which has been the target of numerous legal challenges since it was just recently introduced.

The government will soon submit a plea to the justices as part of a larger legal strategy to combat challenges involving Vice President Biden’s proposed student loan forgiveness programme, which would provide at least $10,000 in debt relief to all borrowers earning less than $125,000 annually.

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Due to separate decisions made by a federal judge in Texas last week and a federal appeals court in St. Louis this week, the programme is presently halted. In its brief on Thursday, the Department of Justice (DOJ), speaking for the administration, implied that it will urge the relevant courts to provide permission for the reinstatement of Biden’s debt relief scheme.

The DOJ’s action comes after a Monday decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, which shut down the programme and is based in St. Louis.

The Eighth Circuit issued a supplemental injunction against the Secretary’s move earlier this week, and the administration will petition the Supreme Court to have it lifted, according to the DOJ attorneys.

An order issued last week by a federal judge appointed by the previous president Trump annulled the programme on the grounds that Biden’s policy exceeded Congress’s authority, and that statement was made in a legal filing aimed at another ruling that had the debt relief plan in its crosshairs.

Following that decision, the administration on Thursday requested that the Texas-based court’s order be suspended while it filed a formal appeal with a different appeals court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans.

While the student loan forgiveness programme has so far been stopped by these two instances, at least four other challenges of a similar nature across the nation have had little success. Two instances that finally petitioned the Supreme Court for immediate relief but were summarily denied by Justice Amy Coney Barrett were among the unsuccessful attempts.

Nevertheless, as the number of legal challenges and appeals rises, legal experts warned that the Supreme Court might not sit idly by.

According to a prior interview with The Hill with Thomas Bennett, an associate professor of law at the University of Missouri, the Supreme Court is more likely to hear the case if numerous lower courts announce conflicting decisions, a situation known as a “circuit split.”

The Department of Education has removed the student debt relief applications from its website while the programme is challenged, thereby putting an end to the court battles’ impact on the student debt forgiveness programme.

Millions of debtors had applied before the applications were removed in the expectation of receiving the relief before loan payments resumed in January 2023.

There is no defined timetable for when a decision could be made in the end as the courts decide whether the programme is legitimate or not. Before a decision is made, it might take weeks or months to resolve the case.

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Advocates for student loans are pleading with the administration to prolong the suspension of loan repayments while the legal battle goes on.

Since the start of the pandemic, student loan repayments have been suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic’s negative economic effects and record-high inflation.

Although there has been no official statement from the White House and payments are scheduled to start in a month and a half, The Washington Post previously reported that the Biden administration is considering an extension of the payment pause.

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