In a victory for a conservative advocacy organization that had challenged the president’s student debt relief plan as an unlawful maneuver by the administration, a federal judge in Fort Worth, Texas, dealt President Joe Biden’s student debt relief proposal yet another setback.
According to a report by The Washington Examiner, the suit was filed n behalf of two borrowers, one of whom was not entitled to the full $20,000 in debt relief and another of whom is not qualified for the program, the conservative Job Creators Network Foundation filed the complaint in October.
Violating federal processes
Challengers to the president’s multibillion-dollar student debt relief initiative claim that by denying borrowers the opportunity to provide public comment on the proposal before its August unveiling, the administration violated federal processes.
In a ruling on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman—a Trump appointee—declared the program to be “illegal.”
“No one can plausibly deny that it is either one of the largest delegations of legislative power to the executive branch, or one of the largest exercises of legislative power without congressional authority in the history of the United States,” Pittman wrote in the 26-page order.
Within a few hours, the Justice Department submitted an appeal notice to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
“We strongly disagree with the District Court’s ruling on our student debt relief program and the Department of Justice has filed an appeal,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
“The President and this Administration are determined to help working and middle-class Americans get back on their feet, while our opponents — backed by extreme Republican special interests — sued to block millions of Americans from getting much-needed relief.”
“For the 26 million borrowers who have already given the Department of Education the necessary information to be considered for debt relief — 16 million of whom have already been approved for relief — the Department will hold onto their information so it can quickly process their relief once we prevail in court,” she added.
“We will never stop fighting for hardworking Americans most in need — no matter how many roadblocks our opponents and special interests try to put in our way.”
The 2003 Heroes Act, according to the Biden administration, allows the Department of Education to “relieve the hardship that federal student loan holders may experience as a result of national emergencies.”
Attorneys for the DOJ further stated that the restrictions of the program were supported by evidence that lower-income borrowers and Pell recipients are more at risk of late payments or even defaulting, and that the claims of the two plaintiffs do not amount to a concrete injury.