The Supreme Court announced Thursday it will hear a legal challenge to President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan early next year.
The high court left an injunction in place halting the program, but the justices set arguments on the matter for February.
The challenge was led by a group of red states, with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals siding with them last month against Mr. Biden’s plan to forgive millions of borrowers.
A Texas court had issued an injunction blocking the plan as well.
The solicitor general in a filing in November had asked the justices to lift the 8th Circuit’s injunction, reasoning that the secretary of Education had found there would be a spike in delinquency from low-income earners following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The plan falls squarely within the plain text of the Secretary’s statutory authority,” wrote Elizabeth Prelogar, the Biden administration’s solicitor general.
The request was presented to Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh and referred to the full court. The justices did not issue comments on the matter in Thursday’s order.
In August, the president revealed plans to cancel up to $20,000 of student debt per borrower for those who earn less than $125,000 a year — or $250,000 for married couples.
The president cited as support for his move the HEROES Act, which was passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that gave the executive branch authority to forgive certain debts regarding the military during emergencies.
The Biden administration says the COVID-19 pandemic is considered an emergency under the law, applying it to student loan borrowers.
Challengers, though, have argued the president does not have the authority to unilaterally forgive the loans taken out by millions of borrowers.
“The Administration is once again invoking the COVID-19 pandemic to assert power far beyond anything Congress could have conceived,” the six Republican-led states argued in their court filing.
• Alex Swoyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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