A federal appeals court on Friday blocked President Joe Biden’s executive order wiping away some student loan debt after a Supreme Court justice earlier in the week refused to take a similar case.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit in St. Louis ordered the administration to pause the program while several lawsuits challenging Biden’s order wind their way through the courts.
Plaintiffs argue that under the Constitution, only Congress can authorize such debt cancellation, not the Executive Branch.
“The court granted an administrative stay while it considers a request for an injunction from six states — Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Carolina — that are seeking to block Biden’s program,” the Daily Wire reported.
The immediately controversial relief plan cancels up to $10,000 of student debt for individuals who make less than $125,000 per year, or less than $250,000 for married couples.
“Our student loan plan lowers costs for Americans as they recover from the pandemic to give everybody a little more breathing room,” Biden said in a speech on Friday. “Republican members of Congress, Republican governors are doing everything they can to deny this relief. Their outrage is wrong and it’s hypocritical.”
Legal experts have countered by arguing that Biden’s use of the 2003 HEROES Act, meant to assist Iraq war veterans, as justification for the loan relief is “flagrantly illegal.”
“Nixing $10,000 of student loan debt per borrower would cost $298 billion in 2022 and a total of $329 billion by 2031 if the policy is renewed each year, according to a nonpartisan analysis from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School,” the Daily Wire continued.
“A report from the Brookings Institution observed that one-third of student debt is owed by the wealthiest 20% of households, while only 8% is owned by the bottom 20% — likely because graduate degrees are often necessary for the most lucrative professions,” the outlet added.
The Biden administration launched a glitchy web portal on Monday to allow Americans eligible for the relief under the president’s order to begin applying. On Friday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre encouraged people to continue doing so.
“We will continue to move full speed ahead in our preparations in compliance with this order,” she said in a statement. “And, the Administration will continue to fight Republican officials suing to block our efforts to provide relief to working families.”
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Henry Autrey, a George W. Bush appointee, ruled that plaintiffs lacked standing to sue the administration over Biden’s order. But a three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit overruled Autrey and ordered the program put on pause.
“We are pleased the temporary stay has been granted,” Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, one of the six attorneys general involved in the lawsuit, said in a statement. “It’s very important that the legal issues involving presidential power be analyzed by the court before transferring over $400 billion in debt to American taxpayers.”
The Associated Press added: “Other lawsuits also have sought to stop the program. Earlier Thursday, Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett rejected an appeal from a Wisconsin taxpayers group seeking to stop the debt cancellation program.”