Protestors and activists gathered outside the Supreme Court as President Joe Biden presented oral arguments on Tuesday regarding his student loan forgiveness plan.
Betsy Mayotte (founder and president of The Institute of Student Loan Advisors) describes the arguments as “the Super Bowl for student loan geeks”. She says that the argument lasted almost two hours longer than expected. “But we don’t know what the outcome of this game will be for a while. ”
According to lawyers, academics, and student loan experts, here are four key takeaways.
1. The Supreme Court could decide the ruling by standing
Many of the oral arguments were focused on legal standing. This is the party’s right to bring a case to court. Biden v. Nebraska was the first case. Several justices challenged Missouri’s legal standing to bring a case for Mohela, a state-created student loan provider.
Justice Elena Kagan, liberal, stated that it is not common for one person to assume the role of another and say that they believe this person has suffered great harm.
In the second case Department of Education. Brown, the justices asked if the plaintiffs, individuals who claim that they aren’t eligible for any relief, were hurt by not being able to take part in the notice-and-comment period.
The federal government in the Mohela case is “essentially arguing the scope of the case is too wide” while in the second case it is “arguing the scope of the case is too narrow”, Dominique Baker, associate professor of education policy, Southern Methodist University, stated in a post-arguments discussion hosted at the Brookings Institution (a left-leaning think-tank). “I believe that what is too wide and what is too small is a subjective issue, so we will rely on nine different definitions of what a subjective query is. ”
To begin to evaluate the legality and validity of Biden’s plan, the court must find one plaintiff.
2. Analyzing the meaning of “waive or modify”
The court could decide whether Biden’s plan is legal. This decision could be based on the text of the HEROES Law of 2003, a law that Congress passed after the September 11 attacks.
Observers were particularly struck by the number questions justices asked about the two words “waive” or “modify” in the act. ”
The law states that the Secretary of Education can waive or modify any statutory and regulatory provision applicable to student financial aid programs. This provision applies “as the Secretary considers necessary in connection to a war, other military operation, or national emergency. ”
While the White House claims that this sentence allows for debt cancellation due to the pandemics, some justices were skeptical.
“When you start to think about the merits, quite frankly this is going to depend a lot on the way the justices view the waiver and the modification,” Baker stated.
Sheng Li, litigation counsel at New Civil Liberties Alliance and a conservative think-tank, stated that the government had misunderstood the term “modify” to mean rewrite. “Congress has taken great care in creating statutes that cancel the debt. They make it clear when they create such statutes that they allow the secretary to cancel debt and set out very specific conditions. ”
3. Strong performance by the U.S. solicitor General
Many experts praised the U.S. The performance of Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar in arguing back-to-back cases for the White House was praised by several experts. Prelogar was born and raised in Idaho. She has a master’s degree in creative writing and a Harvard Law Degree. Prelogar also has years of experience working as a Justice Department lawyer. In 2021, Biden named her the fourth-ranking individual in the Justice Department.
“I believe the solicitor general did a great job standing up for borrowers, highlighting the effect of the pandemic surging on student loan borrowers, and showing how cancellation is likely to occur,” Persis Yu (deputy executive director and managing counsel at the borrower advocacy group Student Borrower Protection Center) said from the steps in the courthouse, minutes after the hearing concluded.
Steven Schwinn, a University of Illinois Chicago law professor, said that Prelogar “knocked it out of th park”. “I think she could have influenced, or even changed, the thinking of two justices. Maybe more. ”
4. Financial decisions should not be made based solely on Supreme Court arguments
The frustration of scores of borrowers is not being eased by the oral arguments after a long legal battle over Biden’s student loan cancellation plan.
People feel that “it’s been this long game of cat and mouse for so many years, so why are I even getting my hopes high at this point?” Kristen Ahlenius is the director of education at Your Money Line. She frequently works with teachers and other borrowers who have higher than average student debt burdens.
Do not let your frustrations stop you from making plans. Yu stated that “Borrowers must take action to ensure they are in the best possible position.”
It is not possible to cancel student debt. The Supreme Court decision on this issue will likely be made in June. Current guidance states that payments will resume within 60 days of June 30 or 60 days following the decision by the high court. Talk to your loan servicer and find out what your monthly payment might be. If possible, put money aside now.
“I see borrowers who form their own opinions based upon what they have read or heard. Mayotte states that some are saying’slam-dunk’ while others say this will be struck down. “Some borrowers are taking actions based on what they have heard today. I believe that this is a mistake. We won’t know until we do. ”