The Supreme Court’s term is almost ended, and the justices have yet to rule on President Joe Biden’s plan to cancel up to $20,000 in debt for tens of millions of Americans. Experts predict that the verdict will be issued on Friday.
“I would expect it then, absent some very unusual circumstances,” said Amy Howe, a co-founder of Scotusblog.
Jed Shugerman, a law professor at Fordham University and Boston University, agreed, saying it was “almost certain” that the justices will release the remaining rulings before the summer session on Friday.
“The justices preserve July and August for getting out of town,” he said.
There is a slim probability that the justices will add another decision day next week or request additional time with this case.
Borrowers should be able to read the decision on the Supreme Court’s website by Friday morning.
The other major judgment, 303 Creative Inc. v. Elenis, is due tomorrow and involves a Colorado site designer who objects to providing services for same-sex marriages.
What’s at stake in loan forgiveness decision
The decision of the Supreme Court will determine whether the Biden administration can proceed with its plan to eliminate more than a quarter of the country’s $1.7 trillion in outstanding federal student debt.
According to higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz, the scheme would completely eliminate student debt for approximately 14 million people.
Kantrowitz believes that approximately 37 million people would be eligible for some loan cancellation – up to $20,000 if they earned a Pell Grant in college, a sort of aid for low-income households, or up to $10,000 if they did not.
The legal challenges began shortly after Biden announced his intentions. At least six lawsuits have been filed against the program by Republican-backed states and conservative groups, the majority of which accuse the president of unilateral overreach.
Two of these legal challenges reached the Supreme Court: one launched by six Republican-led states — Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Carolina — and another supported by the Job Creators Network Foundation, a conservative advocacy group.
Justices consider executive authority to cancel debt
In the cases, the justices considered whether Biden has the authority to cancel that much student debt without the approval of Congress. At a cost of $400 billion, the policy would be one of the most expensive executive actions in American history.
Officials for Biden maintain that he is acting within the law, pointing out that the Heroes Act of 2003, enacted in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, gives the U.S. secretary of education the right to make adjustments to the federal student loan system during national emergencies. When the president announced his forgiveness proposal, the country was under an emergency decree because to Covid-19.
Plaintiffs attempting to halt forgiveness contend that the president is misapplying the legislation, which they claim allows only for specific applications of relief rather than the type of blanket loan cancellation sought by the president.
The judges also assessed whether the plaintiffs in the Biden administration’s lawsuit had properly demonstrated that they would be damaged by the president’s policies, which is usually required to establish the right to sue. The requirement to demonstrate so-called legal standing is intended to prevent people from suing different policies and programs merely because they disagree with them.
Several justices, including some conservatives, appeared dubious during oral arguments that the plaintiffs had proved injury, according to Shugerman. As a result, while most experts expect forgiveness to be struck down due to the high court’s conservative majority, it may yet survive.
For now, Kantrowitz said to borrowers, “Hold tight.”