In week characterized by a bit of legal whipsawing on questions surrounding the Biden administration’s controversial student loan forgiveness scheme, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Friday put the brakes on the program that would erase upwards of $20,000 of educational debt for individual borrowers, as NBC News reports.
The court issued a one-page ruling halting the administration’s ability to erase any student loan pursuant to Biden’s plan until there has been a decision on the merits of a motion for an injunction pending appeal filed by six Republican-led states of a Thursday ruling from a lower court dismissing their claims against the forgiveness framework.
Program’s future unclear
In the case at hand, state officials from Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Arkansas, Kansas and South Carolina contend that the Biden administration has exceeded its authority by attempting to use the HEROES Act – a law from 2003 designed to benefit Iraq War veterans – as justification for canceling a significant portion of outstanding federal student loan debt, as the Daily Wire noted.
Politico reported that although the court called for a stop to any debt relief under Biden’s plan pending a ruling on the injunction request, arguments will be heard in that regard on an expedited basis, with briefs from the parties due early this week.
On Friday, the administration indicated that roughly 22 million student debtors had already initiated applications for loan forgiveness, a figure representing about half of those likely eligible for some degree of relief.
In the wake of the administrative stay issued on Friday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre urged potential recipients of the governmental largesse to keep submitting their applications.
“It is…important to note that the order does not reverse the trial court’s dismissal of the case, or suggest that the case has merit. It merely prevents debt from being discharged until the court makes a decision,” Jean-Pierre declared. “We will continue to move full speed ahead in our preparations in compliance with this order.”
The appeals court’s ruling came swiftly after U.S. District Court Judge Henry Autrey dismissed the Republican-led challenge to the Biden scheme, citing a lack of standing on the part of the plaintiffs to bring such an action, as Reuters reported.
Autrey found that although GOP-backed parties in six states had indeed raised “important and significant challenges to the debt relief plan” pushed by the administration, they simply did not have the type of cognizable legal standing or demonstrated injury to pursue a remedy via the courts.
In response to that ruling, Attorney General Doug Peterson of Nebraska said, “the states continue to believe that they do in fact have standing to raise their important legal challenges,” suggesting that the fight against Biden’s midterm-year bid for younger voters is far from over.
Adding to the inevitably meandering course of anticipated legal challenges to Biden’s taxpayer-funded student loan bailout, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett Thursday declined – without comment or explanation – to entertain another, separate challenge to the plan lodged by a group of Wisconsin taxpayers, as the Washington Examiner noted.
Precisely how the various legal challenges to the massive and costly debt relief boondoggle are ultimately resolved remains to be seen, but it is already clear that millions of voters agree with Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who tweeted succinctly on Friday, “Hardworking Americans who did not take on this debt should not be forced to shoulder this burden.”