Friday 3 March 2023

WaPo Editorial Board: Biden Just Blatantly Broke The Law, But SCOTUS Shouldn’t Touch Him

 The Washington Post (WaPo) Editorial Board acknowledged Thursday that President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan is illegal but nonetheless said the real overreach would be the Supreme Court rejecting it.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in a case challenging Biden’s plan to cancel a portion of student debt. Biden announced in August that $20,000 of student debt would be forgiven to borrowers who received Pell Grants and $10,000 for those who did not. A Texas federal judge put the program on hold in November, ruling the plan was an “unconstitutional exercise of Congress’s legislative power.”

A pair of borrowers have challenged the plan and a coalition of states are challenging the program separately, alleging the plan encroaches on states’ rights.

“The policy is expensive and ill-targeted, and made worse by the fact that Mr. Biden failed to get congressional approval for the $400 billion initiative,” the editorial board wrote. “But while we have criticized the Biden plan as a regressive and expensive mistake, we also believe it would be an overreach for the justices to strike it down. There are limits that restrict when and how the court can exercise its authority — and this is one of the instances in which it should recognize those limits.”

The editorial board called Biden’s reliance on the 2003 Heroes Act a “questionable reading of the two-decade-old law.” 

“When lawmakers passed [the Heroes Act] in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, it is unlikely they were envisioning a future president issuing audacious, across-the-board student loan relief, as opposed to, say, pausing loan payments while soldiers are deployed in a foreign war or helping hurricane survivors rebuild,” the editorial board wrote.

Biden relied on the Heroes Act to push his student loan forgiveness plan forward, as the act permits the Department of Education from canceling or modifying student loans in the case of a federal emergency. The administration argues COVID-19 is the federal emergency in this case.

Despite WaPo’s acknowledgement, the editorial board argued the plaintiffs lack standing, and therefore the court should toss the case.

“The administration’s opponents, which include several states and two individuals, ‘lack standing’ — that is, a direct, concrete stake in the outcome — to challenge the law.”

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