• The Supreme Court is considering a request to revive Biden’s student debt relief program.
  • Six conservative states fighting the plan submitted their written arguments Wednesday.
  • The high court could rule on the request relatively quickly.

WASHINGTON – A half-dozen states seeking to strike down President Joe Biden’s student debt forgiveness plan told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that the administration vastly overstepped its authority with the $400 billion program.

The six conservative states – Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Carolina – argued that Biden violated the separation of powers by embarking on a loan forgiveness program the administration estimates will affect 40 million Americans.  

“The administration is once again invoking the COVID-19 pandemic to assert power far beyond anything Congress could have conceived,” the states told the court. “While President Biden publicly declares the pandemic over, the secretary and Department of Education are using COVID-19 to justify the mass debt cancellation.”

Two federal courts have temporarily blocked the program, prompting Biden to announce Tuesday that the government would extend a pandemic-era pause on student loan repayments until the middle of next year as the legal questions are resolved.   

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Biden enacted the debt relief plan under the HEROES Act, which was passed after 9/11 sparked an American-led military campaign against terrorism. The act gave the president authority to forgive student loan debt in association with military operations or national emergencies. The Department of Education has asserted that the law allows loan forgiveness for Americans dealing with financial hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A federal judge in Missouri dismissed the states’ request to block the program last month, ruling that they lacked standing to sue. While their case presented “important and significant challenges to the debt relief plan,” the trial court ruled, “the current plaintiffs are unable to proceed.” On appeal, the St. Louis-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit sided with the states’ request to temporarily halt the program.