A federal appeals court panel on Wednesday rejected a request from President Joe Biden's administration to stay a lower court's ruling and allow its blocked student loan debt relief program to be reinstated pending further appeal, the Washington Examiner reported.
The three-judge panel did, however, order the government's appeal to be "expedited" to the next available panel for swift consideration.
"It is ordered that appellants’ opposed motion for stay pending appeal is denied," the one-page filing said. "It is further ordered that this matter is expedited to the next available randomly designated regular oral argument panel. The Clerk is directed to issue a schedule for expedited briefing thereafter."
Politico reporter Michael Stratford noted in a tweet that the three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals was comprised of two Republican appointees from former Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump and one Democratic appointee of former President Barack Obama, but that ideological difference didn't matter, as all three judges ruled unanimously against the Biden administration.
The reporter further noted that President Biden's Justice Department had already revealed its intent to appeal this particular matter to the Supreme Court -- which is already considering a similar state-led lawsuit against the debt relief program out of the 8th Circuit -- if the 5th Circuit panel didn't rule in its favor.
DOJ previously said in court filings it would ask the Supreme Court to intervene in the case if the 5th Circuit did not reinstate its student debt relief plan by Dec. 1.
SCOTUS is separately weighing 8th Circuit case (GOP states) w/ no decision yet.
— Michael Stratford (@mstratford) December 1, 2022
At issue in this case, according to Reuters, is the adverse ruling for the Biden administration from U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman in Texas, who had sided with two borrowers who were deemed ineligible to receive the debt relief benefits offered by the administration.
Pittman had ruled that the debt relief program was unsupported by any statute and called it "one of the largest exercises of legislative power without congressional authority in the history of the United States."
As such, he struck down the program in its entirety and forced the administration to halt its efforts to accept and approve applications for the offered relief of up to $10,000 for borrowers earning less than $125,000 annually or up to $20,000 for those low-income borrowers who'd also received Pell Grants.
According to the Department of Education, more than 26 million applications had already been received, and more than 16 million had been approved, prior to Pittman's ruling that the program was unconstitutional.
As noted, the Biden administration will undoubtedly appeal this matter to the Supreme Court, but given that two separate district courts have now been supported by two separate appeals courts in ruling against it, the prospects of a reversal and reinstatement of the debt relief program seem rather slim.
In the meantime, this will be chalked up as yet another loss in the judicial system for an administration that has repeatedly shown little or no regard for the constitutional constraints and limitations that it is required to abide by.