Supreme Court Justices Appear Skeptical About Biden’s Student Debt Relief Plan

President Biden’s most ambitious executive actions seem all but destined to die at the hands of the courts. The divided government often nudges presidents to lean more heavily on unilateral action. But the Supreme Court will likely prevent Biden from achieving very much on his own.

Conservative Supreme Court justices signaled skepticism over the legality of Biden’s loan forgiveness plan. 

The fate of Biden’s policy that fulfilled a campaign promise hanging in the balance.

The conservative majority has already taken a hammer at some of the administration’s other top priorities.

Biden’s policy aims, unveiled last August, to cancel $430 billion in student debt for about 40 million borrowers. The left spent months pushing the administration to enact the plan. 

The nine justices heard arguments in appeals by Biden’s administration of two lower court rulings blocking the policy in legal challenges by six conservative-leaning states and two individual student loan borrowers opposed to the plan’s eligibility requirements.

During oral arguments on Tuesday, the court seemed inclined to ax Biden’s big plan to relieve student debt. 

Each time the court reinforces a narrower view of presidential power, it builds a body of precedent that will make the next case that much harder for the White House to win.

The conservative justices honed in on the “major questions doctrine.” It holds that if the executive branch wants to do anything big, it needs to have direct, explicit authorization from Congress.

The doctrine is quickly becoming one of the conservative justices’ best tools to rein in presidential power. The justices previously relied on the doctrine to strike down the Covid-era eviction moratorium, as well as vaccine mandates. It also struck down a set of sweeping environmental regulations. 

The oral arguments can only indicate so much about how the court will rule. 

At the moment, it seems extremely unlikely that the student loan plan will be allowed to stand. Furthermore, it shows that the Supreme Court is intending on stopping Biden’s progressive actions. 

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