OPINION: Debt-relief resisters have no leg to stand on

8th Circuit Appeals Court grants temporary stay on debt relief, but it will not last



Biden giving a commencement speech, 2015.

KESTRA ENGSTROM, Managing editor

On Friday, President Biden’s student debt relief plan was halted by a temporary stay issued by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, according to Politico.

GOP-led states Nebraska, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas and South Carolina pushed the lawsuit forward to the 8th Circuit after it was thrown out by a lower court on Thursday.

“President Biden’s unlawful political play puts the self-wrought college-loan debt on the backs of millions of hardworking Americans who are struggling to pay their utility bills and home loans in the midst of Biden’s inflation,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge in a September statement. “President Biden does not have the power to arbitrarily erase the college debt of adults who chose to take out those loans.”

However, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement that the order does not reverse the original dismissal of the case or suggest it has merit, but only prevents debt relief from being administered until the courts come to a decision. The Biden administration is continuing to encourage Americans to apply for relief.

It is worth noting that, according to NPR, Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett threw out a similar lawsuit from a Wisconsin taxpayers organization.

This lawsuit and the lawsuit that induced the temporary stay were both dismissed originally because the plaintiffs failed to establish that they had any standing, according to NPR.

GOP officials and states who are now fighting to block debt relief are saying that the Biden administration is overstepping its authority with such sweeping legislation, according to Politico.

However, under the 2003 HEROES Act, Biden actually has the executive authority to cancel student debt in the face of a national emergency, which his administration argues the pandemic undeniably is.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona also pointed out the hypocrisy in these lawsuits in an op-ed for USA Today.

“These same Republican attorneys general and officials, however, didn’t file lawsuits when $58.5 billion in pandemic relief loans were forgiven for their state’s business owners. They didn’t oppose $2 trillion in tax cuts to the highest earning businesses and individuals as part of the Trump tax giveaway. And they didn’t complain when Republican Members of Congress got millions of dollars of their own Paycheck Protection Program loans forgiven by the federal government last year,” Cardona wrote. “It’s only when relief is going to working and middle-class Americans that these elected officials have a problem.”

In the end, I think it is likely the temporary stay will be just that – temporary. These lawsuits have no legal leg to stand on, and, as Cardona pointed out, the blatant hypocrisy takes away any moral argument they might try to make, too.