Arguments regarding President Joe Biden’s student loan debt forgiveness plan went before the Supreme Court on Tuesday. The proposal was made public last August and will cost approximately $400 billion over the course of 30 years. It would cancel up to $20,000 in debt for recipients of Pell Grants and up to $10,000 for students who make under $125,000 a year, according to NPR.
“They don’t have friends or families or others who can help them make these payments,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said, referring to the borrowers. “Once you default, the hardship on you is exponentially greater. You can’t get credit, you’re going to pay higher prices for things. They are going to continue to suffer from this pandemic in a way that the general population doesn’t.”
The Supreme Court is hearing two challenges to the proposed student loan forgiveness plan. Some Republican-led states have filed one lawsuit while another is on behalf of two students. The court’s conservative justices appear to be leaning against the proposal.
Chief Justice John Roberts is one of the conservative justices who expressed the notion that Biden is going too far.
“If you’re talking about this in the abstract, I think most casual observers would say if you’re going to give up that much … money, if you’re going to affect the obligations of that many Americans on a subject that’s of great controversy, they would think that’s something for Congress to act on,” Roberts said.
Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson said the high court should “be concerned about jumping into the political fray unless we are prompted to do so by a lawsuit that is brought by someone who has an actual interest.” Unless the court decides the states have no standing to sue and throws the case out of court, the Biden student loan forgiveness program will likely be struck down.
The justices are zeroing in on whether the six state objectors have enough legal sway to actually go up against the student loan forgiveness plan. If they are unable to prove they have faced significant harm, they will not have the right to file a lawsuit. The Supreme Court will likely make its determination by this summer.