A U.S. District Court in Texas blocked President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program late Thursday on the grounds that the administration lacked the authority to act.
The Biden administration has already filed an appeal.
The new ban is in addition to a block from the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which suspend the program nearly three weeks ago during a separate lawsuit six states challenge the program and the President’s authority to act.
The Texas case was brought by the conservative-leaning Job Creators Network Foundation, which describes itself as “a nonpartisan organization founded by entrepreneurs who believe the best defense against bad public policy is a well-informed public.” The decision of the district court is not temporary; a judge declared the program illegal, going further than the Eighth Circuit’s ban.
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“In this case, the HERO Act — the law providing loan assistance to military personnel who defend our nation — does not give the executive branch express authorization from Congress to create a $400 billion student loan forgiveness program,” Judge Mark wrote in the case. Pittman, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump. “Therefore, the Program is an unconstitutional exercise of the legislative power of Congress and must be repealed.”
The administration said it could offer far-reaching loan forgiveness under a 2003 law that authorizes such measures during national emergencies. In this case, the emergency is a pandemic.
“The court does not turn a blind eye to the current political division in our country,” the opinion continues. “But for the survival of our Republic, it is important to preserve the separation of powers set forth in our Constitution. And, interpreting the HERO Act, the Court finds that it does not provide “clear congressional authorization” for the Secretary’s proposed Program.”
Applications for student loan debt forgiveness cannot be submitted yet
White House Press Secretary Karin Jean-Pierre the statement said that the Ministry of Justice filed an appeal.
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“We will never stop fighting for hard-working Americans who need it most — no matter how many obstacles our opponents and special interests try to put in our way,” Jean-Pierre said, adding that the Department of Education will maintain information on that the 26 million borrowers provided to the department so that it can quickly process their aid once it wins in court. However, the agency, at least for now, no longer accepting new applications.
The Job Creators Network Foundation, which sued on behalf of two borrowers who did not benefit from the plan and could not provide feedback, praised the ruling, noting that the repeal does not address why so many people take on student loan debt.
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“This attempt at illegal student loan relief has done nothing to address the root cause of tuition unaffordability: greedy and bloated colleges that raise tuition by far more than inflation year after year, raking in $700 billion in endowments,” said Elaine Parker, president of Job. Creators Network Foundation. “We hope that today’s court decision will lay the groundwork for a real solution to the student loan crisis.”
At least 26 million people have applied for one-time student loan debt relief under the plan announced by the president in August, and 16 million of those applications have been approved.
“Amid efforts to block our debt relief program, we are not backing down,” Education Minister Miguel Cardona said in response to the ruling.
The program cancels $10,000 in student loan debt for those earning less than $125,000 a year or for families with incomes less than $250,000. People who received Pell Grants in college had an additional $10,000 in debt forgiven.
“Despite this lawless ruling by a Trump-appointed judge, the legal authority of @POTUS to cancel student debt is clear,” – Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts tweeted in response to the ruling. She was one of the leading proponents of loan forgiveness.