Appeals Court Grants Injunction Blocking Student Debt Plan

Courts have kept Biden's forgiveness plan from getting started
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 11, 2022 1:00 AM CST
Updated Nov 14, 2022 4:18 PM CST
Judge Strikes Down Biden's Student Loan Forgiveness Plan
President Joe Biden speaks about student loan debt relief at Delaware State University, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022, in Dover, Del. A U.S. judge in Texas on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2022, blocked Biden's plan to provide millions of borrowers with up to $20,000 apiece in federal student-loan forgiveness.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
UPDATE Nov 14, 2022 4:18 PM CST

A federal appeals court granted a preliminary injunction Monday pausing President Biden's program to wipe clean billions of dollars in student debt, the AP reports. Six states challenging the plan had asked the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis for an injunction while issues around the case are resolved. The decision by a three-judge panel of the court Monday was not about the merits of the states' case, per the Wall Street Journal. The judges said stopping the program now, then restarting it if the states are found to not have legal standing in the case would cause less harm than letting the forgiveness program proceed and then dealing with the "irreversible impact" of the forgiveness plan if the states prevail.

Nov 11, 2022 1:00 AM CST

A US judge in Texas on Thursday blocked President Joe Biden's plan to provide millions of borrowers with up to $20,000 apiece in federal student-loan forgiveness—a program that was already on hold as a federal appeals court in St. Louis considers a separate lawsuit by six states challenging it. District Court Judge Mark Pittman, an appointee of former President Donald Trump based in Fort Worth, said the program usurped Congress' power to make laws, the AP reports. "In this country, we are not ruled by an all-powerful executive with a pen and a phone. Instead, we are ruled by a Constitution that provides for three distinct and independent branches of government," Pittman wrote.

He added: "The Court is not blind to the current political division in our country. But it is fundamental to the survival of our Republic that the separation of powers as outlined in our Constitution be preserved." The 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals had put the forgiveness plan on hold Oct. 21 while it considered an effort by the states of Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Arkansas, and South Carolina to block the program. While the stay temporarily stopped the administration from actually clearing debt, the White House has encouraged borrowers to continue applying for relief, saying the court order did not prevent applications or the review of applications.

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White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the administration disagreed with Thursday’s ruling and the Department of Justice had filed an appeal. She said so far 26 million people had applied for debt relief, and 16 million people had already had their relief approved. The legal challenges have created confusion about whether borrowers who expected to have debt canceled will have to resume making payments come Jan. 1, when a pause prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic is set to expire. Reaction to the ruling was predictably mixed along political fault lines. The Student Borrower Protection Center blasted Pittman as a "right-wing federal judge," saying "tens of millions of student loan borrowers across the country now have their vital debt relief blocked as a result of this farcical and fabricated legal claim." (More loan forgiveness stories.)

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