Conservative groups are flooding the Supreme Court with calls to block Biden's student-loan forgiveness, arguing that borrowers are 'contractually bound to repay their loans'

President Joe Biden
US President Joe Biden.BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images
  • Nine conservative groups this week filed amicus briefs to the Supreme Court opposing Biden's student-debt relief.

  • One of them argued that all borrowers have an obligation to pay back the loans they borrowed.

  • It comes after advocates and scholars filed over a dozen briefs supporting Biden's plan.

In less than a month, the nation's highest court will hear arguments on the legality of President Joe Biden's plan to cancel student debt.

Conservative groups are making sure the court hears their opinion: that student-loan forgiveness is illegal and should be blocked.

This week, nine conservative groups — some representing former Republican lawmakers and US education secretaries — filed a series of amicus curiae briefs to the Supreme Court explaining why they think Biden's plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for federal borrowers is illegal and should be blocked.

Since October, Biden's debt relief plan has been paused due to two conservative-backed lawsuits seeking to permanently block the plan, and the Supreme Court will be taking on both cases on February 28. Biden's Justice Department filed its full legal defense of the plan in January and has since maintained that it has the authority to give millions of borrowers loan forgiveness to remedy the economic impacts of the pandemic.

But critics have been strongly opposed to the plan. Each of the briefs criticized Biden's usage of the HEROES Act of 2003 to enact this relief, which gives the Education Secretary the ability to waive or modify student-loan balances in connection with a national emergency, like COVID-19. One of the briefs, filed by The Buckeye Institute — a think-tank focus on free market public policy — argued that "student loan borrowers remain contractually obligated to repay the full amount of their loans."

The brief was filed on behalf of a student-loan borrower named Amanda Latta, who the filing says has more than $20,000 in student loans and "believes that people should pay their debts."

"She and millions of other student loan borrowers signed a Master Promissory Note obligating her to repay her federal student loans," it said. "She is willing to honor that commitment—as have millions before her—and believes others should do so as well."

Another brief was filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation — the first group that filed a lawsuit seeking to block Biden's debt relief —on behalf of Former House Speaker John Boehner and two former GOP lawmakers Howard McKeon and John Kline, who were involved in the passage of the HEROES Act and argued that "Congress did not, and surely could not, have ever expected the Act to be misused and distorted by the Department in the policy now before this Court."

As Insider previously reported, former Rep. George Miller — one of the original architects of the HEROES Act — filed an amicus brief in November arguing that "the Act confers significant authority on the Secretary to ease the burdens on borrowers who have been affected by unexpected national emergencies. And that is exactly what the Secretary has done here."

And in January, over a dozen advocates and legal experts filed a series of briefs to the Supreme Court supporting Biden's debt relief, prompting Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to say that they reflected "the strength of our legal positions versus the fundamentally flawed lawsuits aimed at denying millions of working and middle-class borrowers debt relief."

Still, the fate of student-loan forgiveness rests with the Supreme Court, and it remains to be seen how these briefs will influence its final decision on the legality of canceling student debt.

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