On Friday, the Biden administration announced they were canceling the loans of another 74,000 student loan borrowers, hiking the total number of people who have gotten their debt canceled to over 3.7 million Americans.
The Biden administration has been ignoring the Supreme Court, which struck down Biden’s student loan relief plan last June, because it had not been approved by Congress. The Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision resulted from the six conservative justices voting to strike down the plan while the three leftist justices opposed them. The Biden administration had cited the 2003 Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act (HEROES Act) to buttress its argument in favor of the student loans, as it stated the loans were permitted in case of a “national emergency,” but Chief Justice John Roberts said the 2003 act was “clearly before a department secretary can unilaterally alter large sections of the American economy.”
In announcing the new student loan recipients, President Biden claimed his administration was acting legally, “My Administration is able to deliver relief to these borrowers – and millions more – because of fixes we made to broken student loan programs that were preventing borrowers from getting relief they were entitled to under the law. Today’s announcement comes on top of all we’ve been able to achieve for students and student loan borrowers in the past few years.”
“And, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on our student debt relief plan, we are continuing to pursue an alternative path to deliver student debt relief to as many borrowers as possible as quickly as possible,” he stated, adding, “From Day One of my Administration, I vowed to improve the student loan system so that a higher education provides Americans with opportunity and prosperity – not unmanageable burdens of student loan debt. I won’t back down from using every tool at our disposal to get student loan borrowers the relief they need to reach their dreams.”
The 2003 Heroes Act, which came after the U.S. went to war following the 9/11 attacks, stated that the Secretary of Education could “waive or modify any statutory or regulatory provision applicable to the student financial assistance programs under title IV of the [Education Act] as the Secretary deems necessary in connection with a war or other military operation or national emergency.” The Secretary could issue such waivers or modifications only “as may be necessary to ensure” that “recipients of student financial assistance under title IV of the [Education Act affected by a national emergency] are not placed in a worse position financially in relation to that financial assistance because of [the national emergency].”
The majority opinion of the Court asserted, “The text of the HEROES Act does not authorize the Secretary’s loan forgiveness program. The Secretary’s power under the Act to ‘modify’ does not permit ‘basic and fundamental changes in the scheme’ designed by Congress. MCI Telecommunications Corp. v. American Telephone & Telegraph Co., 512 U. S. 218, 225. Instead, ‘modify’ carries ‘a connotation of increment or limitation,’ and must be read to mean ‘to change moderately or in minor fashion.’ That is how the word is ordinarily used and defined, and the legal definition is no different.”