Supreme court declines to stop Biden’s $400bn student debt relief plan

Justice Amy Coney Barrett declines request to halt federal judge’s ruling, allowing program to start as soon as Sunday

The US supreme court declined on Thursday to stop the Biden administration implementing its $400bn student debt relief plan, a move that will allow the program to start as soon as Sunday.

A federal judge in Wisconsin dismissed the case on 6 October, saying the challengers, a group called the Brown County Taxpayers Association, lacked the standing to sue.

On Thursday, the conservative justice Amy Coney Barrett, who oversees emergency appeals from the seventh circuit, which includes the federal judge, declined a request to halt that ruling.

Barrett did so without comment or referring the request to her colleagues for consideration – a signal that the request was not a particularly strong one.

It was a second win for the Biden administration on Thursday. In St Louis, a federal district judge dismissed a challenge to the student debt program filed by six Republican-led states. That US district judge, Henry Autrey, ruled that the states lacked standing to bring the suit.

The Wisconsin case will now follow the normal course of an appeal and head to the US court of appeals for the seventh circuit. It could wind up at the supreme court for the justices to decide on a full briefing.

Biden’s plan cancels $10,000 in debt for anyone making less than $125,000 ra year or $250,000 in a household. Those who received Pell grants are eligible for up to $20,000 in debt relief.

The program, which will cost nearly $400bn, will affect roughly 43 million borrowers, the White House said earlier this year.

The Brown county association, which describes itself as a group of individuals, businesses and organizations dedicated to conservative economic policies, argued Biden acted outside his presidential authority when he created the program this summer.

The group, represented by lawyers from the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (Will), also claimed the program had an “improper racial motive”, violating the constitutional guarantee of equal protection under law because it was designed to assist Black borrowers and “narrow the racial wealth gap”.

Observers say that kind of view of a color-blind constitution is not supported by history.

Earlier this month, the senior US district judge William C Griesbach, a George W Bush appointee, dismissed the group’s request. He rejected the argument that the group had standing to sue because they were taxpayers and said a “substantial question” existed as to whether the group would suffer harm from the program.


Sam Levine in New York

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Student loan borrowers rally as US supreme court hears debt relief cases
Conservative justices appear skeptical about Biden’s authority for his plan to clear up to $20,000 in debt

Erum Salam

28, Feb, 2023 @4:08 PM

Article image
‘A patronisingly small amount’: Guardian readers on Biden’s student loan relief plan
The president has announced plans to cancel $10,000 in debt for millions of borrowers – but has he gone far enough?

Alfie Packham and Guardian readers

02, Sep, 2022 @9:00 AM

Article image
‘Who should pay?’: student debt relief in limbo as supreme court decides fate of millions
Over 26m student loan borrowers are waiting for the country’s highest court to decide if they can receive debt relief

Lauren Aratani in New York

28, Dec, 2022 @11:00 AM

Article image
Biden says his student loan relief is ‘life-changing’. Will it fix the system’s inequities?
The initiative’s income cap and unclear bureaucratic process could fail to address the racial disparities that already exist

Edwin Rios

25, Aug, 2022 @12:00 PM

Article image
US student debt relief: borrowers in limbo as lawsuits halt cancellation program
Biden administration’s centerpiece student loan relief measure paused after Trump-appointed judge rules plan is unconstitutional

Erum Salam

26, Nov, 2022 @10:00 AM

Article image
‘We’re struggling to survive’: student debt still weighing down people over 30
It’s not just younger millennials facing astronomical college costs, as a group of thirty- and fortysomethings make clear in Albany

Megan Carpentier

07, Jul, 2016 @11:00 AM

Article image
Deceased and still in debt: the student loans that don't get forgiven
It’s not clear how many deceased students Navient is chasing for money but the company has been riddled with controversy

Mona Chalabi

01, Aug, 2018 @10:00 AM

Article image
Rightwingers threaten legal action on Biden’s student loan debt relief
Republicans say they will seek to oppose the student loan forgiveness in the courts and are making it a key talking point in the midterm elections

Erum Salam

16, Sep, 2022 @10:00 AM

Article image
White House urges borrowers to apply for student debt relief despite court order
Federal appeals court temporarily halts Biden’s cancellation of student debt after motion brought by six Republican-led states

Victoria Bekiempis and Associated Press

22, Oct, 2022 @1:39 PM

Article image
Student loans watchdog who quit under Trump plans own initiative
Seth Frotman, formerly of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, hopes new organization can succeed where officials failed

Matt Krupnick in New York

02, Dec, 2018 @11:00 AM